marc quinn: self.

I’m fascinated by the limits to which some artists push the envelope. Not only the message or appearance of their works, but also the possibilities for finding new extremes to use as the medium itself. A contemporary of Damien Hirst and one the legendary YBAs of the early 90s, the work of British sculptor Marc Quinn makes Hirst look like nothing more than a really enthusiastic taxidermist.

Most recently getting media and art-world buzz for his solid gold sculpture of Kate Moss in a revealingly contorted (and sublimely absurd) yoga pose, Quinn has long-since gone to an extreme of using his physical body as material that would make Marco Evarissti proud. Quinn’s famed 1991 work “Self” is a frozen sculpture of his own head, made from 4.5 litres of his won blood which was slowly taken from his body over a 5-month period. Now that, calling a spade a spade, is really fucking hardcore.

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Sure, I get that there’s an immediate, visceral reaction to something made from human blood. The sculpture itself, though well done, is fairly unremarkable except for the material it’s made of. But that’s precisely the point: the brilliance of the statement is in heightening the meaning of our desire to catalogue and honour and document our physical selves from clay and marble to our very own blood. A sculpture from our own DNA.

Then the over-reactions begin: it would be easy to freak out, be grossed out, and call Quinn crazy. But why? This is a study of how the medium of a work of art can not only equal the statement of the work itself, but completely eclipse it. And why should we be so repulsed by something that flows so critically and intimately inside each of our bodies anyway? Similar to the use of shit or piss in art (though I would defend it as equally meaningful as a statement if done by an artist of this calibre) the use of bodily fluids as an artistic medium usually raises similar ire. The difference for me is that those are things our bodies regularly gets rid of. Aside from menstruation, our bodies never intentionally discrete our own blood (and even then I’d argue there’s a difference between the monthly cycle of menstruation and the over-riding vitality of our regular blood). Blood is vital and universal and holds our entire health within it. Blood is as natural as tears, yet still people can have such abhorrent reactions to seeing it.

Kept in a refrigerated case where it must be constantly maintained at -12˚ Celsisus, “Self” was sold to an anonymous U.S. collector in 2005 for £1.5 million. Not a bad profit for its first owner – global advertising legend, renowned art patron/gallery owner and husband of Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi, who reportedly first bought “Self” in 1991 for “only” £13,000. That’s an 8666% return on investment. Not too shabby. Not that he does it for the money… I’m just sayin’.

Since 1991, Quinn has cast a new version of “Self” every five years. That means that there are 3 out there and one more (hopefully) on the way in the near future. And, with any lucky, many, many more to come… long live the art, and blood, of Mr. Marc Quinn.

anitabling.

This next post is sort of a big delicious colourful enigma for me. These multi-media works from anitabling’s Flickr stream are totally up my alley: graphic, bright, multi-layered (literally), and geometric. And almost geologic, with the multi-hued stacks, slowly piling up on top of each other, layer by layer, to create an incredibly detailed strata when cut into from the side. Like some sort of otherworldly hyper-coloured canyon or rainbow rock formation.

Though some of her taller sculptural works, housed inside acrylic boxes, are displayed like museum pieces, she also references the cutting technique in some of her other unbordered pieces by literally driving knives or saw blades into them. Haphazardly, like a knife left-over in the butter dish after a hurried breakfast, as if more chromatic cutting and splicing and slashing is left to be done once she returns.

Unfortunately, her Flickr page (I’m going to assume for now that she’s a girl named Anita) doesn’t link to another site and it’s all in Spanish. So I’m not sure what the rest of her details are. She’s shown a few times in Montevideo, so I think she could possibly be Uruguayan.

If anyone has details on anitabling, or speaks Spanish and can translate some of the info from Flickr, I’m dying to know more and my usual internet searches turned up nothing. Feel free to email me or leave updates in the comments.

Via Share Some Candy


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new work from levi van veluw.

I’ve gushed about my love for the work of Dutch conceptual artist Levi van Veluw before. He’s one of my favourites; he thinks outside the box and is fearless in his examination of the human face as a sculptural canvas.

His new work expands his exploration of the mingling of the physical and non-physical on the most extremely personal of mediums: van Veluw’s own face. With “Natural Transfers” he shifts from covering how own face with materials pulled from the Earth (straw, stone) to a material from the human body: hair. Fluid and serpentine, the hair, though growing from the crown of the head, becomes a mask, almost an invasion. Hair that wishes it could become skin.

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With “Light” he moves the image into an entirely new entity all together. Trading tangible, physical entities for the geometric possibilities of light-emitting foil, photographed in blackness, as it glows and takes form across the invisible blackness of his now unseen face. As van Veluw explains on his site: “Light becomes form and it stands free from any ‘original’ subject. It is this ‘invisibility’ of the production processes that creates the freedom in this image.”

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In addition to the new photgraphs, Van Veluw will also be showing a new sculpture, “Monere”, at Art Rotterdam from February 5 to 8.

jason de caires taylor: underwater sculptures.

Creating environmental art inside the world’s largest gallery, Jason de Caires Taylor’s underwater sculptures literally come to life. A passionate scuba diver and artist, his oceanic installations are otherworldly, enigmatic, and astoundingly beautiful. He creates solemn and haunting human shapes, arresting in their casual acts and calm conformity. Like outcasts of Atlantis, living all of their days at the bottom of the world.

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To me, the most magical part of all is that over time these works aren’t just displayed in the ocean, they literally become the ocean. They wear away, erode into liquid, and plant life spreads itself across them. Absorbed by the very medium that creates their interest, they’re both a celebration and a sacrifice to the sea.

If you’re into this, check out the world-renowned outdoor installation of Antony Gormley and Nicola Basic’s amazing Sea Organ.

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Via The Post Family

gemma smith.

At her recent show at Sarah Cottier Gallery in New South Wales, Australia, artist Gemma Smith showed off her eye for contrast and colour. On top of her painted works, my faves are her large, multi-faceted acrylic sculptures, which she calls “boulders.” I want to lick them; they look like the top of a gigantic ring pop. It might be tempting to think this type of modern graphic art is simple, and I know we’re into a big “My Kid Could Draw That” phase right now, but don’t be fooled. Visual interest like this isn’t just an accident. There’s a balance here that takes talent to create; an almost asymmetrical symmetry, where the angles, planes, and colours chosen by Smith create a fascination when you stare at this gargantuan gem. Usually, the things that seem the simplest are the hardest to do well…

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Via NOTCOT

esther stocker: what i don’t know about space.

I’m starting to become obsessed with installation art. The challenges and possibilities of taking the idea of art – how we look at it and interact with it – from something contained within a space to the entire space itself is fascinating to me. Immersive and expansive, there are chances here for total sensory overload.

Using pure black and white to create an illusion-filled, almost hallucinatory, geometric world is Italy-based painter, photographer, and installation artist Esther Stocker. Her “Geometrifying” installations wrap each room with pattern, sequence, and then interrupt their supposed order. Not through error or vandalism, but it seems more like the long passing of time has worn away at each piece. Almost like geometric decay, as if the perfection of each shape couldn’t possible hold on to its shape forever.  Visually stunning.

Stocker’s work has been featured around Europe for a few years, particularly in Brussels and Vienna, but she recently garnered big buzz for her exhibit “What I Don’t Know About Space” at London’s Museum 52 this summer. Check out a nice interview with Stocker at Don’t Panic.

Via Complex

benjamin jurgensen.

American sculptor, installation artist, and boundary pusher Benjamin Jurgensen is not easily described. It’s almost like he’s created real-life cartoons. Or multi-coloured non-functional Rube Goldberg cast offs. Or randomly stacking shit in piles. I haven’t figured it out yet, and hopefully that’s the goal – to push, prod, and force us to think. Absurd and imaginative, they’re like whacked out three dimensional puzzles just begging to be figured out. In a world where things are so simple and laid out and don’t ask much of us for fear that we’ll grow tired and give up, these pieces challenge us. They’re complex and non-sensical and don’t promise that there will even bean  answer to find, not matter how hard we try. They stick up for themselves. They don’t care what we think.

In his 2008 exhibition “Don’t Ready To Die Anymore”, he added to the awesomeness of his works with completely kick ass titles. Reminding me of the long, word-winding titles to the songs of one of my favourite bands, The Most Serene Republic, (you can’t tell me you don’t want to just dive head-first into a track called “Where Cedar Nouns And Adverbs Walk”…), each title catapults the craziness of its piece to a sublime new level. It’s like beat poetry with a dash of Warhol. Love love love. Behold:

  • “spit your game, talk your shit, grab your gat, call your click”

  • “shadows only cast if comic book courage amounts to anything more than tattered sheets and exploded ankles”
  • “life after death, ninety-six, woulda stayed fine had puff daddy been a better father figure”
Here’s the magnum opus:
  • “put we to your ear and hear yesteryear’s ocean, mute affairs, mortarboards, merman graduate shit, this is just future love like water dripping down her inner thigh, teardrops as diluted thoughts filtered through the mainstream, twenty thing-a-ma-bobs, treasure troves, spear-fishing, love’s fragile future only safe speaking through cartoon thought bubbles and coral thieves, lured into the deepest oceans of fantasy, flipping fins, marquees wash up on shore, legs required in the seas of change, reprimanded daughters, breathing the same air, just done differently”
But it doesn’t end there. You HAVE to check out the exhibit’s simply killer accompanying online video and text project. It’ll blow ya mind a l’il. Watch  “Don’t Ready To Die Anymore”. Amazing.

solar collector.

If art is in the eye of the beholder, then here is what happens when the beholders are creating the art. In the hills near Cambridge, Ontario, Gorbet Design Inc. (made up of Matt, Rob, and Susan LK Gorbet) has created Solar Collector.

Just the online description itself gets my little new-media-modern-artist’s heart a-thumping:

In a collaboration between the community and the sun, Solar Collector gathers human expression and solar energy during the day, then brings them together each night in a performance of flowing light.

How awesome does THAT sound? Integrating the cycles of it’s natural environment into an interaction-based work of outdoor art, similar to Jiyeon Song’s beautiful “One Day Poem Pavilion”, almost every aspect of Solar Collector’s design took a completely holistic and thought-out approach to it’s natural surroundings. Despite the high-tech aspect of its workings, there is a subtle, organic reasoning behind almost every element of the piece.

The 12 aluminum shafts are held at separate angles in the hillside. Each shaft has three LED lights and three solar collectors, gathering the sun’s energy to power their noctural illumination. The angles of the shaft represent the sun’s position throughout the year: the tallest shaft faces the sun’s location at winter solstice, and the lowest shaft faces does the same for summer solstice. If you’re a techie kinda person, you can check out all the detailed specs here.

During the day, while sunlight charges the batteries within each shaft, people go online and create their own patterns and send them electronically to solar collector. At sunset, Solar Collector comes to life and creates it’s display not just from the energy of light but from the creative energy of human beings. As the solar power in the batteries diminishes during the night, the light from each shaft slowly fades away and darkens until they’re energized by the sun again the next morning. It’s as natural and universal a cycle as breathing.

There’s also a kind of delightful shock to the location of Solar Collector. For those of you who don’t live in Southern Ontario, Cambridge isn’t exactly the first place you’d expect to find an interactive outdoor light sculpture. In fact, it may be one of the last. The randomness of its locale adds to it’s overall coolness.

Via Stimulant

antony gormley: another place.

There’s an intrinsic, undeniable draw towards the sea. Maybe it’s the same lunar gravity that moves the tides, maybe it’s because we were all fish a billion years ago, or maybe it’s the lure of knowing that no matter what machines we strap to our backs or submerge ourselves in, it’s simply not a place where our fragile bodies will let us go for very long.

Or maybe, since we’re mostly made of water ourselves, it’s just the natural, molecular pull of little atoms reaching out to find each other again. A genetic memory too quiet for our brains to understand. What if our very bodies miss the sea? Our skins on the shore, our bones in the beach, our body pulls to return into the same water that it was born from.

In British artist and sculptor Antony Gormley’s “Another Place”, he perfectly captures the universal longing human beings feel for the ocean. Not with much crazy metaphor, but by casting his very own body in iron and replicating himself into a little army. 100 statues are moored into the sand along a 3.2 kilometre stretch of the Mersey Estuary on Crosby Beach near Liverpool, England. Each is over 6’2″ tall, weighs 1400 lbs., and was made from more than 17 different casts from Gormley’s own body. Like sentinels, they each stand 250 metres apart from each other. Some are closer to the shore and some are up to 1 kilometre out, but all are standing exactly the same and gazing into one direction: out to sea.

When the tides are fully out, each of the 100 men are completely exposed. But as the tide rolls back in, one by one they’re slowly swallowed up by the water. Like a ceremony, their yearning pulls it towards them. They each stand and wait their turn to be voluntarily enveloped.

Gormley continued to experiment with the use of multiple figures in 2006 with “Time Horizon”. A second set of figures was cast, this time placed into an olive tree grove at the Archaeological Park of Scolacium near Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy. This time they are each facing different directions and stand at different heights in the ground. “Time Horizon” doesn’t exhibit the same fluidity of “Another Place”, but a more ancient feel. The way the ground erodes and shifts amongst these statues is slow and tectonic and much greater than we can hope to see in a moment of standing there. These are movements so slow we can feel them, but will never be able to watch. “Another Place” rides the waves in a day, while “Time Horizon” carries the weight of eons.

To see more from Gormley, check out this video from his latest exhibition in London, “Blind Light”:

kittiwat unarrom: body bakery.

This brings weird to a whole new level. Thai Fine Art student and artist Kittiwat Unarrom is the son of a baker. All that baking exposure growing up has been a clear influence, but his artistic need to see things a little differently definitely flared up as he created the tacitly named “Body Bakery” – brutally, gruesomely, almost unbelievably realistic looking sculptures of dismembered human body parts sculpted entirely from bread.

Here’s the real kicker – they’re packaged like food and up for sale at his showroom / gallery / exhibition / bakery / torture-chamber / oddity / tourist attraction in Ratchaburi, Thailand. Check out the video below to see the packaged goods and some footage of Unarrom at work:

I’m vacillating between being incredibly impressed at his (disturbingly authentic) sculptural skills and a desire to vomit. I’ve seen some hyper-realistic sculpture before, but, at the risk of becoming completely inarticulate… these really, really, really look like heads.

Unarrom himself is almost charmingly candid about his art…

“Of course, people were shocked and thought that I was mad when they saw the works. But once they knew the idea behind it, they understood and became interested in the work itself, instead of thinking that I am crazy.”

Inspired and informed by anatomy books and visits to forensic museums, he makes sure that none of your various body part bread desires go unfulfilled: he also makes feet, hands, and internal organs which come displayed impaled on hooks. Made from dough, raisins, cashew nuts, and chocolate, all of the works on display are totally edible. (insert cannibalism joke here.) (insert “eat me” joke here.) (insert “put your foot where your mouth is” joke here.)

“When people see the bread, they don’t want to eat it. But when they taste it, it’s just normal bread. The lesson is ‘don’t judge just by outer appearances.”

Right. That’s the lesson…

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