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Cuneyt Akeroglu’s Red Room: Nudity, Sex, And Love Through The Fashion Lens

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Cuneyt Akeroglu’s Red Room series is a polished exploration of love and sex through the lens of fashion. Akeroglu enlisted top models like Lara Stone, Anja Rubik, Natasha Polly, and many more to enact scenes meant to convey the many facets of love through nude portraiture. The photographs are each stunning in their own right. Nude women (except for one male model) with ideal figures set in front of a striking red backdrops with sometimes extremely suggestive props, like Natasha Polly’s red rose spilling white liquid – read semen – down her leg, or Lily McMenamy entangled in a snake.

I’m particularly drawn to the photo of Anja Rubik where she squats on top of a mirror looking down at herself with curiosity/rapture, and holds her breast while covering the portion of the mirror that would (presumably) reflect her vagina. Akeroglu captures a moment of discovery for Rubik’s character in the photo, as well as demonstrates the complexities of being able to reach out and touch someone or oneself, and the confusion and excitement that comes from the attempt.

The only problem I have with the series is Akeroglu’s approach to the male portrait. I acknowledge right off the bat that the precedent for the subjects of nude portraiture in both fashion and art history is predominantly female, and so it’s entirely expected that his subjects would be a majority of women. What I find strange is that every woman is on full display with her entire body in the frame, where the male model, Arthur Grosse, is taken only from the shoulders up, not even baring a nipple. It’s barely a nude portrait, and only addresses the themes of sex and love using tiny beads of sweat that could indicate physical activity of a sexual nature. Although I enjoy the subtle tones of the photo in contrast to the overt sexuality of some of the female portraits, I question the decision to include a male portrait where the subject is treated with such hesitation.

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Studio Visit: Noah Becker

Noah Becker graciously allowed Beautiful/Decay into his Canadian studio to view his new body of work.   Becker is about to open a second studio in New York this September for the fall 2012-13 art season.  This is a correspondence studio visit, Beautiful/Decay requested the photos and they were provided by another photographer.  Although the paintings are clearly portraits, Noah describes his newest work as figurative instead of portraiture.   I recognize a few of the faces but generally the paintings aren’t obviously people we should know, and because they aren’t it follows that they can’t be portraits in the traditional meaning of a portrait of a specific person.  Noah presents us with a romantic vision of elegant people, people who are good at living!  Wish I was one of those, ha.  Some of the folks feel like 70s’ rock stars or maybe authors from the 30s’, and I think I recognize some of Velasquez’s Spanish Renaissance princes.  When asked Becker mentions “stillness and time frozen in a moment,” which is a way to talk about the strange nowness of consciousness, or possibly he’s saying the point of modern life is to be elegant in the absence of direction.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might as well do nothing with style.

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Max Siedentopf Illegally Pimps Your Ride With A Little Help From Some Tape And Cardboard

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Max Siedentopf is a car transformer. He pimps cars which, in his opinion need an upgrade. He sneaks up at dawn in the streets of Amsterdam and with a couple of euros tapes cardboards onto the cars. The add-ons recreate the design of race cars, low budget style.

It’s all thought through. All the major components, rear wings, side pods and front wings, help imitate a fancy expensive supercar. Max Siedentopf cannot get his head around the fact that in a world where personalization and self-expression is craved and sought after, cars are still so poor looking.

Car owners are usually like pet owners, proud and close to the subject they affectionate and take care of daily. They usually end up looking alike. Would this mean ugly looking cars have ugly looking owners? Thanks to Max Siedentopf, and if the owners keep their upgrade on, this will never be brought up anymore. 

Amy Friend Pierces Vintage Photographs With Hundreds Of Illuminated Holes

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Photographer Amy Friend‘s series Dare Alle Luce is a visual interpretation of the Italian saying – ‘to bring to the light’ (in reference to birth). She has birthed new light (literally) into something old. Sourcing vintage photographs from markets and online, she has pierced them with hundreds of holes, tracing around silhouettes and filling shapes with delicate perforations, flooded by light. Initially starting the project by embroidering the images, she found the effect of hundreds of little needle holes more interesting and decided to pursue that technique instead. Instilling new life into these images from the past, Friend has created hauntingly mysterious objects that exist in between historical and contemporary worlds. She says of her motivation:

I aim to comment on the fragile quality of the photographic object but also to the equal fragility of our lives, our history. All are lost so easily. By playing with the tools of photography, I “re-use” light by allowing it to shine through the holes in the images. In a somewhat playful and yet literal manner, I return the subject of the photographs back to the light, while simultaneously bringing them forward. (Source)

She goes on to say:

In my work I gravitate towards ideas relating to time, memory, impermanence, and the fluctuations of life…. In my practice I tend to work within the medium of photography, however, I am not concerned with capturing a “concrete” reality. Instead, I aim to use photography as a medium that offers the possibility of exploring the relationship between what is visible and non-visible. (Source)

Rachel Baran’s Surrealist Lens Manipulates The Body

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A young photographer named Rachel Baran is taking surrealist pictures to a new level. Mostly self portraits in strange settings, her manipulation in photoshop allows fantastical things to happen. Displaying nuances usually found only in painting, it’s no wonder people are taking notice. According to her Facebook page, she lives in Ohio, just graduated from college and seems like a regular gal except for her highly creative eye. Some significant work shows appendages (fingers) in different stages of duress. In one, two hands are fused together by skinwebs and another shows a cutoff finger revealing not blood but concrete. One does reveal blood and a montage of her cutup portrait on a clothes line to dry turns a bit, well, emotional. Whether there is any real logic to her work is another question. However, an understanding might not matter, because the pictures hold your attention. Some may dismiss them as pretentious gobbledygook, others will embrace and try to find hidden meaning. The surrealists played with subconscious. Ideas were thought about but not necessarily thought out. Comprehension was a feeling. Dali believed in Jungian and Freudian behavior. For part of his daily practice, the artist would fall asleep with a big sketchbook on his lap and be awoken by it crashing onto the floor and immediately jot down whatever was in his mind. Baran’s photographs follow a similar plan. They exist to explore a subconscious path. Through a series of latent acts, interesting moments occur and the camera is there to capture them. (via Artfucksme)

Nick Thomm’s Surreal Bent

Welcome to the hyper colored world of Australian artist and designer Nick Thomm where neon covers everything, digital altered photos are the norm, and everything is just a bit surreal. From neon text pieces to altered scanned images nothing is safe from Thomm’s neo-psychedelic touch!

Clustered Paintings with Just Enough Abstract Mystery From James Kirkpatrick

The texture on these mixed media paintings from Canadian artist James Kirkpatrick  is insane. Packed with color, the artist’s nebulous, jumbled works, which contain just the slightest hint of concrete elements here and there (is that a car? –wait– is that a face, now?), exist very close to complete abstraction. This deft “one foot in, one foot out” dance is indicative of great skill on Kirkpatrick’s part. The subtlety of these paintings is really where their greatest value is. In a culture where everything is increasingly spelled out for us ahead of time, it’s nice to preserve a little bit of mystery.

Kirkpatrick is taking part in Zaga Zow, a group show at Cooper Cole in Toronto, until August 18.

Photos of Hyperrealistic Dolls And Their Mothers Blur The Lines Between Real And Unreal

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Four years ago, photographer Jamie Diamond bought a hyperrealistic doll known as a Reborn baby off eBay, and this purchase lead her to a project spanning nearly two years. Called Mother Love, the series blurs the lines between real and unreal, living and the inanimate.

To make this project possible, Diamond collaborated with an outsider art community called the Reborners. They’re a group of self-taught female artists who hand-make, collect, and interact with these dolls. They hold them, dress them, wash their hair, and take them for walks in the park. “After spending a year investigating and recording their practice,” Diamond writes in an artist statement, “I chose to become a Reborner to gain a better understanding of the community.” Diamond continues:

In Nine Months of Reborning, I reborned dolls and constructed a working nursery in my studio and on eBay, called the Bitten Apple Nursery. Before putting the dolls up for adoption on eBay, I photograph each one using a large format camera, the image becomes the remnant of this exchange.

Creating the dolls was a laborious process. Some required up to 80 individual layers of painting, veining, blushing mottling, and toning, cured with heat. Strands were individually attached to the scalp. The dolls were weighted properly so that they feel like a real baby when held in someone’s arms.

The Amy Project  followed this construction.  “I invited celebrated Artists from the community to individually interpret and idealize the same doll,” Diamond writes. “I then photograph each doll mimicking vernacular school portraits. Each of the dolls are unique to their maker’s hand, but share an uncanny similarity through their common origin.

Diamond no longer calls herself a Reborner, and plans to sell the remaining dolls on eBay (although she might keep one for herself).

Working with the Reborn community has allowed me to explore the grey area between reality and artifice where relationships are constructed with inanimate objects, between human and doll, artist and artwork, uncanny and real. I have been engaged with this community now for four years and while working and learning from these women, I’ve become fascinated by the fiction and performance at the core of their practice and the art making that supports their fantasy. (Via Hyperallergic)