Famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (previously) is known for her color explosions, light matrices, and proclivity towards covering many of her works in a dazzling layer of dots. In one of her most interactive installations, the artist hands her interest in dot making over to the visitor. The Obliteration Room invites guests to “obliterate” a domestic interior by placing colorful stickers onto the walls, furniture, and floors.
For her recent commission for the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria Triennial, the artist transformed this concept to include a flower motif. For Flower Obsession (2017) guests were given artificial gerbera daisies and flower stickers to place on any surface of their choosing, completely covering the faux-apartment by the end of the triennial’s four-month run. This floral theme taps into the beginning of the artist’s art-making, referencing a memory from her early childhood.
“One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern,” Kusama explains in a press release for the triennial. “I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated … This was not an illusion but reality itself.”
The NGV Triennial closed late last week. You can view more documentation from the inaugural exhibition, including this massive installation of hyperrealistic human skulls by Ron Mueck, on the National Gallery of Victoria’s website.
Share this story
Photographer Mandy Barker creates deceptively eye-catching images to document the pandemic of plastic debris in the world’s waterways. Barker, who is based in Leeds, UK, works closely with scientists to collect trash from our oceans and beaches on the edges of nearly every continent. One research expedition covered the debris field (stretching to Hawaii) that resulted from Japan’s 2011 tsunami and earthquake; she has also explored the Inner Hebrides in Scotland with Greenpeace.
Barker manipulates her findings in Photoshop, mimicking the manner in which ocean water holds these objects in suspension. Swirls of colors and patterns draw in the viewer’s eye, only to realize that these visually appealing compositions consist of garbage that animals have attempted to chew, plastic pellets, tangles of fishing line, and water-logged soccer balls. The artist describes her work in a statement on her website:
The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness. The research process is a vital part of my development as the images I make are based on scientific fact which is essential to the integrity of my work.
Barker is currently a recipient of a 2018 National Geographic Society grant. Her work is on display through April 22nd at Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art, at Photo London Art Fair in May 2018, at the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg in June, 2018, and at BredaPhoto in The Netherlands in September 2018. The artist’s book, Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals, was named one of the ten best books of 2017 by Smithsonian. You can see more of Barker’s photographs on her website as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Share this story
This past February architectural photographer Andres Gallardo Albajar traveled to the Great Wall of China where he was able to take in a rare sight—one of the seven wonders of the world without a single soul to be seen. Albajar had expected to create the same tourist-filled images as others who visited the architectural feat, however when he arrived he found a thick fog encapsulating the structure. The dense cover may have been a deterrent for tourists, but this particular weather added further mystery to the deserted landscape Albajar captured in this recent series.
“I was expecting big amounts of people, even lines to access or things like that, but for my surprise there was very few people, which allowed me to capture the wall with no people, which in my opinion helps to create a more surreal and magic feeling,” Albajar tells Colossal.
Share this story
For the past several months, a collective of artists in Dublin known as Subset has been coming up against the letter of the law, as the Dublin City Council (DCC) issues orders requiring Subset to paint over their colorful murals with swaths of monochromatic paint. Blindboy Boatclub, an Irish comedian and hip hop artist who was the subject of a Subset mural, points out the conundrum in an interview with JOE:
Subset have been brightening up dull spaces all over Dublin. People were engaging… taking selfies, having craic [fun conversation]. That’s what art is supposed to be, socially engaged. A genuinely engaging spectacle for real people, not just hidden away in a gallery for those with an art education. Dublin council have disappointed me. How is it OK to paint a wall one dull color of paint? But it’s illegal to paint the same space with multiple colors.
The sweep of mural removals began in late 2017, despite previous successful collaborations between DCC and Subset, as cited in the Irish Times. Although the murals are created on private property and with explicit permission from property owners, under current law the artists are still required to apply for permits for each painting. These permitting fees are calculated by square meter, and can cost thousands of euros.
As explained by RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) Ireland’s national public-service media organization, “The permission available to the artists at present is fixed and rigid whereas they require a more fluid process allowing them to apply for spaces on an ongoing basis and vary their artwork in response to changing events. As it stands, the collective must apply separately for each mural. The amount of time, bureaucracy and expense required to do this detracts from the spontaneity and impact of their art, so they don’t apply.” In contrast, the more up-to-date and efficient licensing processes in Irish cities like Limerick and Waterford have been beneficial for both artists and the city governments.
In response, members of the Subset collective have teamed up with other artists to paint new murals throughout Dublin, with a goal of adding twenty five new works. Some are vibrantly colored, drawing attention to the role that such large-scale public artworks play in enlivening urban environments. Others feature grey palettes in solidarity with the #greyareaproject hashtag, which is being used to unite the pro-mural movement, and you can see examples of both below.
Residents are also using the hashtag on social media to document pre-existing murals, as evidence of the city’s rich mural scene. You can follow the conversation on Subset’s Twitter and Instagram and via #greyareaproject on both platforms.
Share this story
Artist James Clar creates sculptural light systems that interpret the ways modern technology has altered our perception of reality and time. His multi-colored works often imitate society’s relationship to the screen, such as in his work Increasing Resolution, which shows the rapid incline of digital resolution on our TVs, computers, and phones, or his 2015 sculpture Wheeeeeeeeeeeee! which expresses the loosening of language structures due to an increasing dependence on communicating through technological devices.
“The majority of our daily experience and information comes from the artificial light sources of our screens and phones, shifting our habitat from the physical space around us to the non-physical space of online digital systems” explains Clar in an artist statement.
Clar received his masters in interactive telecommunication from New York University. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at Jane Lombard Gallery in NYC later this year. You can see more of the artist’s work on his Instagram and website.
Share this story
In partnership with Hyperallergic and the Exploratorium museum, we’re giving away a trip to San Francisco to see the museum’s summer exhibition, ‘Inflatable’, curated by Colossal. One lucky reader and a plus-one of their choice will be provided with hotel accommodations, airfare, and tickets for the exclusive preview night of Inflatable on Friday, May 25. Read more about the exhibition here; the prize package and how to enter are detailed below. This giveaway is available only to US readers.
Prize includes hotel, flight, and admission for two to the preview event on May 25, 2018:
Hotel accommodations include three nights at the Hotel Zephyr at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco.
Flights to be awarded with two $500 Visa gift cards.
Tickets for two to exclusive preview event on Friday, May 25, 2018, including meet and greet with the artists and curator of Inflatable.
Enter to win below or via this link.
Share this story
The small fishing village of Houtouwan on the Chinese island of Shengshan has been abandoned since the 1990’s. Due to increased competition with nearby Shanghai and a depleted fishing supply, residents were forced to find work in other towns, leaving their own coastal village to the whim of Mother Nature.
Today the ghost town is only visited by tourists curious to see the vine-wrapped homes and other buildings swallowed by untamed greenery. Shanghai-based photographer and videographer Joe Nafis visited the area last year with fellow photographer Dave Tacon. It took them nearly 36 hours to reach the village due to lack of ferries or connection with other towns in the area. Once in town, Nafis explored the area on foot, as well as from above with his drone.
“Using the drone to explore the village first was a good idea as the paths were not well maintained and overgrown,” Nafis tells Colossal. “Some of the buildings were in tatters, while others looked like they were going through a remodel. It was all very strange. On the Sunday there were a few tourists, about ten to fifteen, and then on Monday we were the only people in the village other than the three to four that still lived there.”
You can view drone footage from the photographer’s visit to the overgrown village in the video below. He recently released an aerial time lapse video focusing on Shanghai’s urban development over the last seven years on his website, and more video-based projects by Nafis can be found on his Instagram and Vimeo. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Humor
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.