We probably all have an image of Paris in our heads; a romantic, cliched view of a city most English speakers idealize and fantasize about. As a recent first-time visitor to the city of lights (affectionately nicknamed la Ville Lumière), I am also guilty of having this idea. I dreamed it would be full of tiny quaint shoebox-sized apartments covered with ivy, or snow (depending on the season); the cityscape full of scooter sounds zipping through the alleys, or cats screeching as they scampered over falling garbage cans. I’m not sure if I can say whether that vision was realized while I was there, or entirely imagined, but I can relive a certain nostalgia when I see the photography of Alain Cornu.
Cornu captures a theatrical side to the romantic city, illuminated in the moonlight. Focusing on the endlessly interesting rooftops of Paris, his images are a treat to look at. Full of so many angles, hidden corners, inviting skylights and alcoves that we would normally overlook, the images are like a sweet homage to the power of potential in the city.
Having previously worked in the genres of landscape, Cornu is well versed at turning his subjects into fascinating objects. His past series include trees, rocks, misty fields, piles of twigs, windows, walls, doorways, streets, beach fronts, and walkways. And while all of these things could potentially be boring and un-inspirational, they turn into something absorbing and engaging in the hands of this observant photographer.
Joel Tretin calls himself a Photo Humorist and that description seems perfectly apt. His photo series Stranger in Paradox “looks at what’s true and totally screws with it.” At first glance, the pictures seem deceptively straightforward—portraits of the city shot in a somewhat generic ad-agency aesthetic. Hidden in plain sight are the visual jokes: a parking ticket on the windshield on a sports car in a building height ad; a carousel over a revolving door; an elephant walking though the green murkiness of a subway. The Photoshop manipulations are mostly seamless—it really looks like that woman is pushing an eight-seat stroller, and that sporty yellow cab looks real next to its stodgier brother. A stack of cars make the most of a lone parking space.
The subtlest images make you work for them. A lit Wall Street façade, American flags… oh, there. The don’t walk sign is flipping the bird. The traffic sign points to the “Road Most Taken” an apparent play on Robert Frost’s Road Less Taken.
Photo manipulation in art is often used to create surreal imagery. And these pictures are surreal in that they portray things that are unreal and often fantastic, but the photos lack the intention and technique that transform pictures into fine art. Which seems to be just fine with Trentin, who says:
I am a failed stand up comedian, who now tries to make people laugh through photography.
Lisa Nilsson’s works renders the densely squished and lovely internal landscape of the human body in cross sections. Her materials are Japanese mulberry paper and the gilded edges of old books. They are constructed by a technique of rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper called quilling or paper filigree. Quilling was first practiced by Renaissance nuns and monks who made artistic use of the gilded edges of worn out bibles, and later by 18th century ladies who made artistic use of lots of free time.
Argentinian artist Agustina Woodgate creates these colorful and complex rugs made out of the skins that once belonged to a few hundred abandoned stuffed animals. Originally inspired by Eastern Culture’s symbolic use of rugs [as they often depict the spiritual and mental world in woven form], Agustina was looking to ultimately deliver an alternative memory object that displays and references personal histories.
Woodgate’s idea started by her relationship with her own old Teddy bear, Pepe. On an interview with Sight Unseen, she says:
It was simply an object. But I also didn’t want to throw it away. That’s when I decided wanted to do something with the bear. In the beginning of the process, I had no idea what was going to happen. I went to a thrift store, got another bear, and started playing around. I looked at all the components that make up a stuffed animal: the stuffing, the fabric, the stitching. I wanted to approach an everyday object in the hopes of making something new.
Woodgate was recently awarded the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art. The $20,000 prize was accepted by Woodgate last Friday at the Orlando Museum of Art, which established the award this year. “She was chosen based on the quality and significance of her overall body of work and contributions to the field of contemporary art”, said museum curator Hansen Mulford.
Mid-seventies basbeall dudes by Brooklyn based illustrator Paul Windle.
Jeremy Willis had me over to his Brooklyn studio and we hung out and talked about his paintings. Willis describes the paintings anthropomorphically – as wanting to be doing something human, like giving birth, hugging you or selling you illicit substances. The majority of the paintings are big and surround you with saturated colors and chaotic space. They do feel like they have an overwhelming emotional content, and the paintings reflect the messy nature of life. Look for more from Jeremy soon.