Bas Meeuws’ still lifes works ‘Flower by Flower’ – capturing the passage of time in polished compositions via layered photography, to glorify the timeless beauty to everyday life inspired by the traditional old Dutch masters vision about transience and mortality.
“Flowers are the ideal objects… In nature flowers seduce bees and other insects with colour, scent and unusual shapes and since the very beginning of history, they have had this effect on people as well.” Intrigued especially by their function in 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, the artist tries to summon up the feeling that the people looking at the picture then would have had. “The bouquets in the paintings were impossible constructions of flowers from different seasons. I want to pursue this element of the genre. It gives you the opportunity to work outside of time, to make time stand still… The awe that they must have felt for all the expensive and exotic flowers together.”
Inspired by the poem ‘Amaze’ by the American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1878–1914), Cooper & Gorfer’s series ‘I Know Not These My Hands’ navigates through the ubiquitous traces a troubled history leaves on the human mind and speaks of the aspects of love, loss and layers of identity. The role of hands that play in the project is as a symbol of the deeds you have done or maybe you have not …
“Based on a comprehensive research travel to northwestern Argentina, we map memory and investigate questions of identity and displacement through chance encounters, interviews and photographic meetings with people from different levels within the Argentinian society and adjacent lands. Reflections on colonial wounds, forced migration, and more recent political turmoil surface throughout the project.”
Cooper & Gorfer – I Know Not These My Hands
Cooper & Gorfer comprises the artists Sarah Cooper (b. 1974, USA) and Nina Gorfer (b. 1979, Austria) and for more details about them and their project, watch this video.
The series is published in a book by Kehrer Verlag.
Florian Ruiz’s series ‘The White Contamination’ – portraying the landscape around Fukushima as a poignant photographic reflection of the fleeting moments, the unexpected, the fortuitous, and the deformed, in a multiple reality through a process of assembly, collage and super impression, and by challenging the ability of photography to put in image the invisible danger of the radioactivity.
Florian Ruiz – The White Contamination
“Nature has an essential place in my current work; it is the place where radioactivity accumulates the most… Inspired by traditional Japanese engravings and the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich who seeks to give a spiritual dimension to his paintings. “The painter must not paint only what he sees in front of him, but also what he sees in him”. I wanted to make the landscape accessible to the expression of the Sublime even if it’s contaminated by radioactivity… Japan maintains a strong cultural relationship with nature, loaded with Buddhist notions emphasizing the reality of a world where the only thing certain is the impermanence of all things.”
Florian Ruiz – The White Contamination
Why in ‘white’? The artist replies with a quote from Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’, Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale “…yet for all these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and honorable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.“
Jamey Stillings’ series ‘The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar’ – a three-and-a-half year aerial exploration of transformative interactions between natural forms and human activity, questioning our perceptions of land and resource use, and our uncertain path toward a sustainable future.
The Ivanpah Solar is one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant built in the Mojave Desert of California and the artist caught in striking graphic black-and-white photographs all the stages before the construction works commenced in October 2010 until its finish in February 2014.
Jamey Stillings – The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar
The series is published in a photo book by Steidl and is a part of a larger long-term documentary work titled “Changing Perspectives,” focusing on the global state of renewable energy development.
“It is the “invisible world”, hidden behind the “visible” that I have been working to capture…
One day in early autumn in 2001, just as twilight was setting in, I had lost track of the mountain paths. I happened to wander into a shady forest, where I found myself suddenly seized with a strong desire to take photographs. The following day, I set out once again, carrying my camera with me this time, and searched for the same forest. This experience made me realize that I was not taking photographs of the forest out of my own will, but that the forest was inducing me to take its photographs.”
Cope and Arnold’s project ‘Stamen’ – dreamy still lifes created by flower arrangements subjected to chemical substances to explore the dual character of nature as giving birth and the subsequent death, and the circle of life of fleeting beauty. The series is inspired by the abstract photography and resembles romantic oil paintings of the 19th century.
“A very New World thing combined with an Old World thing like paintings of flower arrangements… The act of bathing and submersion is the very first in the process of physical and psychological cleansing; it signifies the beginning of the death and rebirth of the self. Through this process we sought to create images which reflect stasis, conflict and surrender between these opposing forces.”
“From the zealous geometry of the garden at Versailles to the cloud-pruning of trees and shrubs in traditional Japanese gardens, these various forms of cultivation reveals a delicate equilibrium, collaboration, and occasionally a collision of culture and nature. Many formal gardens in the U.S. and their stylistic precedents in Europe and Asia exhibit strong design qualities including clipped shrubs, ordered paths and controlled views using natural materials to communicate a cultural message. While these traditions grew out of a particular cultural context, their styles have been embraced by people in vastly different times and places. This practice of designing, domesticating and improving upon nature reveals simultaneously our distance from and longing for the natural, depending on the cultural lens from which it is viewed”.
Giulio Di Sturco’s series ‘Living Entity’ – an eight year story about the first non-human entity granted the same legal rights as the people in India – the river Ganges, to raise questions about our responsibility towards it. If we have decided to accept it as a human being, will we treat it this way? “Is the Ganges destined to die exactly under the blows of humanity, or can we hope for change?”
Giulio Di Sturco – Living Entity
“The Ganges is a prime example of the unresolved contradiction between man and the environment.” Once wild, free and vigorous Ganges has dramatically changed over the recent years, affected by the climate change, industrialization and urbanization, and now is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. The Ganges river is considered sacred by more than 1 billion Indians and on brink of an ecological crisis, will it just threaten to damage the human daily life, health and environment, or also the spirit of the river itself?
“The Ganges River is a symbol of Indian civilization and spirituality—it is a source of poetry and legends. In Hindu mythology, the Ganges is considered a “Tirtha,” which means a crossing point between heaven and earth. My fear is this bridge may crumble in our lifetime.”
Jennifer Schlesinger‘s ‘Utopia’ – a series of constructed imaginary landscapes as the artist’s response to “the philosophical question of whether a perfect place can exist, bringing together life’s dualities into a perfect union of beauty.”
Jennifer Schlesinger – Utopia
The word ‘Utopia’ was first mentioned in Plato’s Socratic dialogue ‘Republic’ describing an idea of how citizens could go about creating the ideal state, designed so there are no problems. It was Sir Thomas More in the 16th century who went further using it for a fictional island possessing a seemingly perfect socio-politico-legal system, and thus creating the notion of ideal society under the same name in which everything and everyone works in perfect harmony.
However, over the years the actual definition of ‘Utopia’ has been confused due to the different meanings of the prefix – as ‘no place’ (from Greek: οὐ = not and τόπος = place, hence “no-place”, strictly describing any non-existent society) and as ‘good place’ (from Greek εὖ = good or well and τόπος = place, hence “good place”, strictly speaking about a positive utopia). The marriage of these two definitions assumes that the definition for Utopia is an idyllic place that does not exist.
Examining this definition for Utopia, the artist’s intention is “to create a physical landscape, which does exist, if only in the paper-imaged form”.
Ryuijie‘s series ‘Black & White Ice Forms’ – collection of photographs featuring flowers frozen in blocks of ice in exploring the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi – beauty in nature in all of its imperfections, the acceptance of transience and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
“The ice is as important as the flowers it encases, providing an element of the unexpected and unpredictable.”