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Eric Lafforgue Captures The Disappearing Tradition Of Facial Tattoos In Rural Myanmar

Eric Lafforgue - Photography Eric Lafforgue - Photography Eric Lafforgue - Photography Eric Lafforgue - Photography

Earlier this week we featured the work of photographer Eric Lafforgue, who documented the scarification practices of the Omo Valley Tribes in Ethiopia. Today, in a series titled Ugly Becomes Beautiful, he takes us far into the hills of northwestern Myanmar, where the tattooed women of the Chin culture live. It is uncertain when the practice began, but as Lafforgue writes, some believe that long ago, “the royalty used to come to the villages to capture young women. The men from the tribe may have tattooed their women to make them ugly, thereby saving them from a life of slavery” (Source). Over time, although it is a declining practice, the tattoos became symbols of culture and beauty.

There are three types of facial tattoo patterns: the spider web, the dotted B pattern, and one where the entire face is inked. They are created using needles made of bamboo or thorns, and the ink is a blend of cow bile, pig fat, soot, and plants. The process—which takes one to three days, depending on the pattern—is painful. Lafforgue relates one woman’s experience:

“I was 10 years old. The day before the tattoo ceremony, I only ate sugarcane and drank tea. It was forbidden to eat meat or peanuts. During the tattoo session, I cried a lot, but I could not move at all. After the session, my face bled for 3 days. It was very painful. My mother put fresh beans leaves on my face to alleviate the pain. I had no choice if I wanted to get married. Men wanted women with tattoos at this time. My mother told me that without a tattoo on my face, I would look like a man.” (Source)

Today, facial tattoos are deemed illegal by the country’s military junta; hence, many of the women were reluctant to have their photos taken. In these immersive images, Lafforgue provides a rare glimpse into a practice that, tested by modernity, transforms notions of “ugliness” into the diverse beauty of tradition and cultural meaning.

Visit Lafforgue’s website to learn more. Click here for our article on scarification in Omo Valley.

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Luka Fineisen’s Gallery Bubbles

The work of artist Luka Fineisen seems like it may exist for only a moment.  Giant bubbles are scattered throughout the gallery floor.  The size of the bubbles are contrasted by their seeming fragility.  Fineisen in this way freezes a tense moment, stretching a delicate life long enough for close inspection.  The gallery’s reflection on each bubble reminds the viewer of the delicate and temporal nature of aspects of the world around us.  At any moment, something we’ve taken for granted can pop.

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Surprising Reactions To George Ferrandi Falling Asleep On Strangers In Subway

George Ferrandi - Performance

Personal space, something that’s cherished in the United States, is put to the test in Brooklyn-based artist George Ferrandi’s series, I Felt Like I Knew You. This site-specific performance features Ferrandi on the crowded New York City subway. In her words, she transforms the space between two people from being stiff and guarded to something that resembles a space friends would share. Essentially, she sits in a packed subway car, rests her head on a stranger’s shoulders, and documents what happens through iPhone videos shot by Angela Gilland.

Not surprisingly, not everyone is receptive to Ferrandi’s invasion of their “personal bubble.” Some people wake her up or passive aggressively move their shoulder. Some, however, just let her rest. In an interview with Katherine Brooks of the Huffington Post, Ferrandi was asked if she learned anything from the project. Her response:

For me, this piece taps into the mystery and fragility of how we relate and communicate to each other as human animals, full of signs secret even to ourselves. It’s given me a deeper understanding of the way New Yorkers evolve to maintain their privacy in public spaces. We carry our energy so closely. We’re often pressed up against each other on the train with a kind of “I wish I wasn’t touching you” energy that is invisible but respected. This is part of why so many people are touched by a photo of one man resting his head on the shoulder of another; it challenges a preconception about tenderness between strangers, especially in New York. And it offers a tiny counterpoint to the Culture of Fear being cultivated in America.

All images are stills from iPhone videos. They make you ponder how you would act if Ferrandi put her head on your shoulder. Would you engage her or move your shoulder? (Via Huffington Post)

Christina Mrozik’s Dark Flora and Fauna

Christina Mrozik is a modern day Audobon following in the footsteps of other talented contemporary painters such as Tiffany Bozic. but what separates Mrozik from the rest is the quiet darkness that looms around each and every one of her delicate paintings. Whether it’s vulture like birds with their beaks tied together or a partially skinned wolf guarding a cracked egg these paintings delve into the underbelly of the natural world with a surreal and macabre flare.

Karen Knorr’s Photographs of Sacred Indian Interiors Consider Caste, Femininity, And it’s Relationship To The Animal World

Karen knorr india song

Karen knorr india song

Karen knorr india song

Karen Knorr’s past work from the 1980’s onwards took as its theme the ideas of power that underlie cultural heritage, playfully challenging the underlying assumptions of fine art collections in academies and museums in Europe through photography and video. Since 2008 her work has taken a new turn and focused its gaze on the upper caste culture of the Rajput in India and its relationship to the “other” through the use of photography, video and performance. The photographic series considers men’s space (mardana) and women’s space (zanana) in Mughal and Rajput palace architecture, havelis and mausoleums through large format digital photography.

Karen Knorr celebrates the rich visual culture, the foundation myths and stories of northern India, focusing on Rajasthan and using sacred and secular sites to consider caste, femininity and its relationship to the animal world. Interiors are painstakingly photographed with a large format Sinar P3 analogue camera and scanned to very high resolution. Live animals are inserted into the architectural sites, fusing high resolution digital with analogue photography. Animals photographed in sanctuaries, zoos and cities inhabit palaces, mausoleums , temples and holy sites, interrogating Indian cultural heritage and rigid hierarchies. Cranes, zebus, langurs, tigers and elephants mutate from princely pets to avatars of past feminine historic characters, blurring boundaries between reality and illusion and reinventing the Panchatantra for the 21st century. (via)

Nature Front and Center- Bigfoot One

Collab w/ Skinner

What’s been going on lately in the world of Cali artist Bigfoot One?

As always, Bigfoot’s combination aesthetic of classic heavy metal, graffiti, and Nature is looking pretty, pretty, pretty good. Vinyl toys, walls, prints; so solid. Completely comfortable in his obsessions, Bigfoot returns again and again to his subject matter, to his lonely, knowing forest creature. Even in thorough repetition, the work packs a punch with each newly minted piece in whatever medium the artist chooses to employ. That’s a sign that there’s a basic truth at work here. What the truth is, like Bigfoot himself, is kind of an enigma.

Keep in eye out for a new release from Bigfoot and Kidrobot in the near future and also check out Issue:B of Beautiful/Decay with features one of the very first interviews with Bigfoot before he became the mysterious giant of street art.

Beautiful/Decay Book 5 Sneak Peak- Part 4!

We’re only a week or so away from getting Beautiful/Decay Book 5 in your hands. With the book already 80% sold out make sure to subscribe right now to reserve one of the 1,000 copies that we’ve printed and save 33% off the cover price!

This week is also our last week for our cover puzzle contest. All you have to do is be the first person to piece together the cover of the Book:5 and email the completed image to [email protected]. First person to send in the completed cover will get a free copy of Book: 5! be sure to check out the B/D blog for the previous missing pieces.

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