Architectural artist Alex Chinneck has turned heads this week in Covent Garden by making it look as if the top part of the Market Building in the piazza is floating in mid air. From all angles it seems as if the building is hovering above it’s foundations, not joined to any part of the base. Not only is it an impressive optical illusion, but also a display of amazing technical ability. Taking over 8 months to plan and involving at least 50 people, this project has been a logistical feat. The actual materials used in the replication includes digitally carved polystyrene that has been distressed by scenic artists and attached to hidden beams. Chinneck’s technical team worked over 4 days to help install the trickery, cladding plaster around structures to look like stone columns and inspecting the finish on the paintwork.
Playfully titled Take My Lightning But Don’t Steal My Thunder, Chinneck makes sense of the installation in this way:
“there are things which always come together but are always slightly apart….the shape of the crack was reminiscent of the lightning bolt. It’s a very cataclysmic scene.” (Source)
Known for his gravity-defying architectural projects, Chinneck also created an awe-inspiring installation last October in Margate. Called From The Knees Of My Nose To The Belly Of My Toes, that project involved a brick facade that appeared to separate from it’s roof and slide down into the garden in front of the apartment block. He has also “flipped” old livery stables in Southwark – recreating the windows and door frames, but around the wrong way. Chinneck seems addicted to talking on these overwhelmingly complex projects, but thinks of them in quite a different way:
“The idea itself is actually quite simple. I don’t get too bogged down in concept or meaning or message. It is what it is. It’s playful and fun.” (Source)
Vancouver artist Douglas Coupland has made his head available to be vandalized – well an over-sized fiberglass sculpture of his head at least. In conjunction with his solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Coupland installed a seven foot black resin and polyester sculpture on the lawn in front of the gallery. Called ‘Gumhead‘ and described by the artist as a “gum-based, crowd sourced, publicly interactive, self-portrait“, the striking sculpture has a very imposing Soviet-era aesthetic to it.
Gumhead was unveiled in May, and Coupland invited the public to plaster their chewing gum all over it for the duration of 4 months. He hoped to build up such a thick layer of gum, that his features would become obscured. Here he comments on witnessing the process:
At first the added gum looked like jewels against the black. And then the Excel chewing gum van parked beside it during the Jazz Festival and took the whole head to the next level. And then we had a heat wave and the gum started to weep. And now it has a 24-hours cloud of bees and wasps around it. It’s a dream. (Source)
People have reacted to the piece in many different ways. Coupland was delighted with the interactions:
People went directly to snot. They tried big earrings but they would fall off. During the last month, we’ve had the Ebola outbreak so everyone started doing hemorrhagic bleed-out from the eyelids. (Source)
With plans of washing the gum off the sculpture and starting the whole process again in January, when the show moves to Toronto, Coupland is interested to see what else unfolds. Admittedly, he is a bit unsure about it’s success during the Canadian winter, especially the -10 degree temperatures and if the gum will even stick. (Via Escape Kit)
Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard – Pierre and Gilles – have made portraits of Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier, Andy Warhol, and Iggy Pop, just to name a few. The portraits are sexually charged and totally fantastical. Their subjects are placed under water, surrounded by flowers, or in what looks like a McDonalds ball pen (a not so subtle reference, in the tradition of most of their portraiture). Their kitschy and outlandish aesthetic has had them attain international recognition; they’re included in collections like the MoMA’s and have had a major retrospective at the New Museum in 2000.
Not only do they work together professionally, they have also been together as a couple for the duration of their shared career. Pierre is the photographer, and Gilles does the painting afterward. According to a VMagazine interview, the entire process of one portrait takes them about three weeks:
“We do everything from creating the décor to taking the picture to constructing the frame. We are always inspired by the person’s personality.”
Although their sexual orientation is a large part of their public persona, they say they are cautious not to pigeonhole themselves into what they call the “gay ghetto” and for this reason take portraits of a variety of celebrities they admire, while maintaining their own distinct style.
Their aesthetic is whimsical and edgy. Certainly setting a man up fully nude peeing into a garden of flowers is not an image you will see every day. It’s provocative, but not aggressive, probably because of the teasing, over-the-top nature of the accompanying imagery. They find a way to playfully bring the mainstream out of its comfort zone so it seems like every day should be filled with sexy nuns riding bedazzled horses!
Thinking about my 80s upbringing, I’m not too sure if life has really changed all that much between then and 2011. True, kids today don’t call each other on the landline, and have also seen more cat videos than I ever did at their age, but hey, small potatoes. China’s post-80s generation, on the other hand, born on the cusp of their country’s breakneck economic development, have experienced some truly seismic stuff, with much about life today being nearly unrecognizable from the distant past. Wang2mu is an illustrator living in Guangzhou who explores post-80s themes and nostalgia through a warped “schoolhouse” aesthetic. Crowded by urgent slogans, his grotesque children straddle rockets, robots, and other generational emblems.
Like all good contemporary photography, Elena Montemurro‘s Coming Of Age series highlights a particular zeitgeist, or a certain subculture you wouldn’t normally see so clearly. Her study of American teens discovering life is like a Sophie Coppola film – featuring kids full of ennui, walking wistfully through the streets and sitting aimlessly in diners throwing food in their mouths and at each other. She candidly captures a time of innocence and sincerity. Her images show kids doing exactly what they want, authentically expressing how they feel, and being outright bored. Her photos feel like you are following your cousin around an affluent suburb somewhere in America.
Flirting between gaming arcades, car parks, playgrounds at night, pet shops, lonely trains and empty beaches, Montemurro is able to show an accurate view of the disjointedness of modern life. The way we live our daily lives are quite ho-hum and underwhelming and she manages to turn the dreariness of it all into something a bit magical. Just because something is mundane doesn’t mean it can’t be appreciated. Montemurro transforms unexciting routines and the in-between space into something worth having a second look at. The waiting room somehow doesn’t seem like such a boring place after all.
When it comes to graffiti the weirder the better and Austrian writer Nychos delivers on every front. From bold candy coated lettering that is slashed and dashed with spilling guts to heads splitting into a dozen pieces this talented writer does not disappoint. Check out a more murals by Nychos and a short video of his collaboration with Flying Fortress after the jump.