Artists Mariana Fantich from Ukraine and Dominic Young from The UK have teamed up to create a collaboration known as Fantich & Young. Their latest project, Darwinian Voodoo, aims to merge two seemingly opposing bodies of thought, Darwin’s theory of evolution and the ceremonial ritual aspects associated with Voodoo, allowing them to indulge in a super-natural exploration. Through reappropriating and mimicking the aesthetic of ceremonial dress and placing it within the context of an evolutionary-based system, Fantich & Young allow themselves to create something that is no longer real nor super real, but entirely its own entity. They have manipulated the notion of a theological super-natural by shaping it to fit an aesthetic discourse of scientific truth, provoking a sort of mythical, yet superior lifestyle. The work is created from “symbolic ready-made materials…address[ing] parallels between social evolution and evolution in the natural world: Nature as model or nature as threat.” The work seems to simultaneously address that humans are, in fact, at the hands of nature, and that humans do, in fact, have the power to manipulate their own genetic fate. Perhaps aspects of contemporary life we do not associate with the “natural” world, i.e. social media and fashion, are actually a part of a modern day survival of the fittest.
They are branding their project as “a new pedigree lifestyle,” the collection itself being titled Apex Predator. The collection “features male and female ceremonial attire customised with human hair, bones and eyes. Collection includes shoes, accessories and perfume laden with thousands of dentures.” (Via designboom)
Sixteen graffiti artists painted over 4500 square meters of a Swiss prison throughout an eighteen month period. Their work spanned exercise yards, corridors, stairwells, and the extensive outside wall, which alone would use around 1000 spray paint cans. The project began as a sort of celebration of graffiti as a unique art style as well as a desire to bring the artists’ work into a new environment with a challenge of large walls. Besides pushing personal boundaries of creating work on such a grand scale, the artists wanted to change the atmosphere of the prison. Their project would turn a cold, banal, uncomfortable setting into a warmer space for both prisoners and staff. The duration of creating the paintings was equally matched by the amount of planning and concept creating needed to span such a large space and find harmony between sixteen different artistic styles. The physicality and planning, however, were not the only difficult tasks: the artists were met with an emotional challenge as well. Despite knowing they we not confined, they were still consistently aware of their setting and were given a mere glimpse of what it is like on the inside. For example, they needed to call guards to be let out of the space and were daily witnesses to the day to day tension that exist within a prison.
Artists include Malik, Claude “Note” Lüthi, Robert Proch, Onur, Mizzo, Ti, Lain, Ata “Toast” Bosaci, Huran “Shark” Dogan, Daniel Zeltner, Sarah Parsons, Nevercrew (Pablo Togni and Cristian Rebecchi), Benjamin Solt, David Monllar, and Chromeo
A book, titled 4661m2: Art in Prison, has been published about the project to allow the public access to the locked up work. The book also hopes to inspire similar projects.
For more information, check out the projects website here.
American artist Anne Lemanski creates quirky, conceptual sculptures of animals. She begins by creating a copper rod amateur which she then cuts, manipulates, and braises together to create what she refers to as a three dimensional line drawing. She then uses various materials, such as prints created from images of her own collages, leather, and vinyl. These works act as a further adaptation of her collage practice. Her sculpture aesthetic roots from images she has been familiar with for years. As the Alumna Artist-In-Residence at the McColl Center for Arts + Innocation in Charlotte, North Carolina, Anne Lemanski developed her practice between both her collage and sculptural elements, leading her to create her newest exhibition, Simulacra. As the artist moved between techniques of meditative cutting and pasting to the physicality of creating a structure, she began to realize that ultimately, despite the difference in the materiality of the work, what was creating was the simulation of animals. By creating a falsified “double” of something that is in fact real. Lemanski allows herself to enter the postmodern discourse of the notion of “simulacra,” a concept associated with French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. Within the philosopher’s work Simulacra and Simulation (1981),Baudrillard argues that by creating “copies,” society has replaced all meaning with mere symbols. Thus, the human experience has become hyper-real, as all meaning is just a simulation of what once was. Lemanski notes that her own practice replicates the same notion, as she creates the simulacrum of nature. She allows two dimensional imaging to become three dimensional. This process allows the viewer to then experience the simulated, while channeling the real.
New York City native photographer Steve Schapiro documents what it means to be a hippie in 2015. Originally known for his photographs of and participation in the original Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco in the 1960s, Schapiro’s new aim is to explore where today’s hippie energy lays. From 2012 to 2014, Steve Schapiro, teaming with his son Theophilus Donoghue, traveled throughout the country following various “free-spirit movement” festivals such as Burning man in Nevada, Shasta festival and Rainbow Gathering in California, and others of the likes. Here what they found is that the “neo-hippie” generation “has more to do with meditation, yoga, fellowship, good vibes, and a search for the divine than it does with the mind-altering substances of its 60s predecessor.” Through images of mass nude meditation, men covered in mud in what looks like states of pure euphoria, group circles of shirtless people forming hand hearts with their neighbors, Schapiro sheds light into a community deeply rooted in finding their happiness through channels of love and nature.
“In Bliss, Schapiro captures the multitudes who come to commune with nature, other like-minded souls, and all that is divine and inspirational in the multi-hued spectrum of human spirituality. He focuses on a subculture of the current hippie counterculture known as “Bliss Ninnies” — individuals who embrace meditation and dancing as a way to reach ecstatic states of joy. The book provides an overview of a new contemporary hippie life within America introduced to Schapiro by his son who began his own journey into Bliss at age 23.”
Hungarian photographer Flora Borsi digitally “distouches” images of models. After analyzing fashion portraits, the artist took note of the overt emphasis on perfection the images took. She then decided to play with the process to perfect by attempting the opposite. Her images wink to the classic artist portrait, perhaps even take their composition from what looks like could be a model or actor’s headshot, yet instead of aiming to portray women at their most beautiful, her mission was to create something truly unusual. Her portraits highlight distorted faces of women that tend to have three eyes, peculiar brow lines, and lips that droop, giving an almost absent chin. With a thread of shiny hair and dramatic lighting, this body of work almost acts as a portrait series of genuine alien beings. The artist explains the project in her own words:
“In this project I’ve been analyzing some fashion portraits, how perfect they are. So I made the opposite of retouching, somehow I distouched these pictures of perfect models. This project is connected to surrealist painters point of view: beauty wasn’t enough to give me interest. I love imperfections as much as I love surrealism. These pictures are my little monsters, no one wants to look like them, because they are totally unique.”
Borsi’s work uses digital manipulation in order to explore her fascination with surrealism. She focuses on issues surrounding identity, relationships, emotions, and dreams with the aim to investigate the complexity of the human psyche.
London based artist Dan Hillier creates unique, fantastical prints that blend both contemporary and antique styles. With portraits of beings composed of tree branch silhouetted hair, adornments of constellation filled skies, third eyes, and intricately pattered antlers, Hillier’s work is magnificently ornate. Using a steampunk reminiscent aesthetic, Hillier juxtaposes victorian imagery with moments of nature, creating his own sort of mythological, science fiction world. His work takes notes from the Symbolist movement that began in the late nineteenth century, such as human-animal hybrid motifs seen in Fernand Khnopff’s The Sphinx (1896), or the whimsical, grim illustrative style of Aubrey Beardsley. While most of his titles are straightforward descriptions of the image it is paired with, there are slight winks to a following of both psychological and theological threads. For example, the piece Son of the Father depicts a man wearing a mask of a perfectly sculpted face to cover a more complex, dark, geometrical entity, in which another face lurks. The piece titled Pachamama, which can either refer to the Incan fertilely goddess, or acts as the Incan word for the creation of the world, depicts a woman made up of a fully starred sky and a robe created from a forest. The prints are both recognizable, yet manifestly mythical, leaving the viewer in a sort of satisfied state of inquisition. The work is almost pleasantly dark, as if they are images taken from a memory, dream, or story that just cannot quite be placed, yet is yearned to be remembered.
Midwestern artist Dave Rowe creates sculptures of time worn structures influenced by American landscapes. His work has developed through a means to “explore history,” as he believes that addressing the change and aging of a landscape reflects not only the passage of time, but also has psychological implications about those who inhabited that change. Memories, ideologies, and personal histories are shaped by one’s surroundings. Therefore, a landscape can serve as a reflection of a collective “personal” experience. By capturing one specific physical moment, the artist allows himself to reflect not a universal or personal truth, but instead, acts as a sort of mirroring of a hyper-specific type of development. The artist re-creates recognizable, yet unspecific buildings that allude to an archival, physical space. His sculptures, focusing on geometrical infrastructures, have been shaped by his own upbringing in the American Midwest and have been influenced by the changes in the American landscape. Specifically, his work focusses on the more rural areas, as the relocation of factories have dissolved the need for industrial buildings. He captures how functionality, or rather, a lack of it, can act as a record of topographical transformation. Even his use of color is a reference to time; he pairs “barn red or tar black” along with “brighter colors evocative of graffiti,” in order to reflect the often seen palette of a forgotten edifice. Rowe creates these structures scaled to hit at eye level, allowing the viewer to enter the space emotionally, and hopes to open a discourse for personal reflection.
London based artist Rachel Dein creates fossils from everyday objects. She allows herself to preserve tangible pieces of the present as keepsakes for the future. The simplicity of the work adds to its honesty and preciousness. Dien studied as a propmaking apprentice at the English National Opera, giving her quite a extensive knowledge of object creation. Her “fossil” project began with the desire to preserve a sentimental bouquets of flowers. Her process has now blossomed into a practice of creating beautifully adorned tiles. She takes cherished, perhaps fleeting, objects and allows them to exist eternally. Her work is created with a fairly basic form of casting, yet allows her to capture delicate and intricate details. She learned the process from a glass blowing class in art college, during which she was told to press shapes into wet sand and pour molten glass over the impression. After that, she began experimenting with clay, plaster and paint, and found her way to the tile making process she uses today. Each of the molds she creates can only be used once, and therefore each piece is a unique, personalized object. Her work is undoubtedly graceful, and in a slight sense, almost whimsical. The process of casting has a long history, and despite her creating in the preset, her objects tend to feel as if they have come from a deep rooted past, truly capturing the feel of being a “fossil.” (via deMilked)