Towering above the trees in a densely forested area of Indonesia lies a giant chicken. The gigantic structure has the body, tail, and head of the bird, even holding open its beak in what appears to be mid-squawk. Although the very old bird is quickly decaying, Gereja Ayam (as the locals call it) attracts hundreds of photographers and travelers to its location in Magelang, Central Java each year who are looking to explore the bird’s bizarre interior.
The building was originally built as a prayer house by 67-year-old Daniel Alamsjah after he received a divine message from God. Although he intended the building to resemble a dove, the locals care more that it looks like a chicken, nicknaming it “Chicken Church.” In addition to a prayer house, Alamsjah also used the building as a rehabilitation center, treating disabled children, drug addicts, and others. Alamsjah was forced to shut the center’s doors fifteen years ago after steep construction costs.
Currently five of the eight pillars holding up the building are crumbling while graffiti covers the inside walls. No longer a place for therapy, the building still serves as a place for worship and travel and according to locals—a private spot for many young couples to hide away from parents or prying eyes. (via Hyperallergic and Daily Mail)
Intersections, 2013. 6.5′ Cube, projected Shadows: 35′ x 32′.
Intersections, 2013. 6.5′ Cube, projected Shadows: 35′ x 32′.
Created by mixed media artist Anila Quayyum Agha, this elaborately carved cube with an embedded light source projects a dazzling pattern of shadows onto the surrounding gallery walls. Titled Intersections, the installation is made from large panels of laser-cut wood meant to emulate the geometrical patters found in Islamic sacred spaces. Agha shares:
The Intersections project takes the seminal experience of exclusion as a woman from a space of community and creativity such as a Mosque and translates the complex expressions of both wonder and exclusion that have been my experience while growing up in Pakistan. The wooden frieze emulates a pattern from the Alhambra, which was poised at the intersection of history, culture and art and was a place where Islamic and Western discourses, met and co-existed in harmony and served as a testament to the symbiosis of difference. I have given substance to this mutualism with the installation project exploring the binaries of public and private, light and shadow, and static and dynamic. This installation project relies on the purity and inner symmetry of geometric design, the interpretation of the cast shadows and the viewer’s presence with in a public space.
South Korean artist Wang Zi Won constructs intricate mechanical figures of Buddha and bodhisattva that appear to be lost in meditation or enlightenment. The electrically-powered figures are fused with numerous mechanical components which at times resemble halos or lotus flowers and simultaneously move the humanoid figures through repetitive motions (see videos above). The artist says his intention is to examine a future where humans and technology merge, something he views in a particularly positive light. Via Shin Seung-ho of Dukwon Gallery:
The artist predicts that in the future humans will evolve and adapt themselves to enhanced science and technology just as men and animals in the past evolved to adapt themselves to their natural circumstances. He sees this future as our destiny, not as a negative, gloomy dystopia. His work is thus based on neither utopia not dystopia. Wang represents the relations between man, technology and science through the bodies of cyborgs.
The artist considers it important to escape from human bondage in order to achieve harmony between men and machines. He thinks this harmony can be achieved through the process of religious practices and spiritual enlightenment. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva of Compassion helps people attain enlightenment, Arhat is a spiritual practitioner of asceticism, and Buddha is a being who reaches the highest level of enlightenment. Through them, the artist intends to follow the path of enlightenment, breaking away from anxiety, agony, and pain. The artist has no intention to emphasize religious connotations through these Buddhist icons but to reflect his own or our own existence between utopia and dystopia.
While it may be difficult to grapple with the artists intentions I find the figures and their motions to be really quite beautiful and indeed meditative, somewhat reminiscent of the robots used in Chris Cunningham’s amazing All is Full of Love video for Bjork. If you have some patience (the site loads quite slowly) there are many more examples of Wang’s work and several more videos over on his blog and you can learn more at Art Nova and Hanmi Gallery.
Another year, another collection of glorious videos featuring the Hindu Holi Festival of Colors at locations around the world, and as the quality of equipment improves it just gets better and better. This latest addition was shot and directed by Jonathan Bregel and Khalid Mohtaseb from New York-based Variable in India this last March. I highly recommend watching it in HD, as their beautiful camera work seems to capture every single particle of color as its hurled through the air.
Another widely-shared video was this clip from filmmaker Devin Graham that captures the Holi Festival in front of the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. You can read more about it over on the Huffington Post.
Lastly I can’t help but include my all-time favorite Holi clip from last year by Brian Thompson (previously), also shot in Spanish Fork, Utah. The short is set to the track Optimist by cellist Zoe Keating who has climbed to the very top of my most-played artist list this last year. A stunning watch, every time.
Brooklyn-based artist Meg Hitchock dissects religious texts such as the Bible, Koran, and Torah and uses the individual letters to create maddeningly complex, interwoven collages of typography. Via her artist statement:
In my series Mantras & Meditations, I examine and deconstruct the word of God as interpreted through the world religions. I select passages from holy books and cut the letters from one passage to form the text of another. For example, I may cut up a passage from the Old Testament of the Bible and reassemble it as a passage from the Bhagavad Gita, or I may use type from the Torah to recreate an ancient Tantric text. A continuous line of text forms the words and sentences in a run-on manner, without spaces or punctuation, creating a visual mantra of devotion.
In her most recent work at Famous Accountants Hitchcock spent 135 hours transcribing (gluing tens of thousands of letters, ahem) the entire Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian New Testament, but with text cut out from an English translation of the Koran. And if 135 hours seems like a lot, she began cutting the individual letters for the installation almost six months before its opening. The text ran across gallery walls and floors like an endless rope of words. See video of that piece as well as a brief interview here:
I can’t decide if I’m more impressed with her artwork or simply what must be her incredible patience. See more of her work here. (via hyperallergic)