The Breathless Grit and Determination of South Korea’s Iconic Female Divers Are Captured in Life-Size Portraits by Hyung S. Kim
Between 2012 and 2014, Seoul-based photographer Hyung S. Kim frequently visited Jeju Island, which lies off the southern coast of South Korea, to document the impressive women carrying on a centuries-old practice. Named the haenyeo—which literally translates to ocean women—the iconic divers harvest shellfish and other sea life without oxygen, requiring that they hold their breath for up to three minutes while plunging 10 meters underwater. Today, many have surpassed age sixty: the youngest diver Kim photographed was 38 at the time, while the oldest was more than 90.
Captured just after they exited the water, Kim’s life-size portraits situate the women against a stark, white backdrop, which emphasizes their dirt-speckled shoes and wet, shining gear. Their equipment includes a tewak, the orange sphere slung over some of their shoulders, that floats at the surface during each dive and lead weights attached to their waists to hasten the descent.
“They are shown exactly as they are, tired and breathless. But, at the same time, they embody incredible mental and physical stamina, as the work itself is so dangerous; every day they cross the fine line between life and death,” Kim explained in an interview with The New Yorker immediately following the series’ release.” I wanted to capture this extreme duality of the women: their utmost strength combined with human fragility.”
In 2016, the haenyeo were added to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage as the number of divers has dwindled from around 20,000 in the 1960s to just 2,500 in recent years. Although the work was male-dominated originally, it began to reflect the semi-matriarchal society of the Jeju by the 18th century and continues to be led by women today.
Explore the full collection of Kim’s portraits and see where the remarkable series will be exhibited next by following the photographer on Instagram. You also might enjoy Kimi Werner’s short film documenting her visit to Jeju Island.
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Berries, Cookies, and Salami Slices Anonymize Vintage Portraits by Digital Artist Harriet Moutsopoulos
Telling someone that there’s an errant herb stuck between their teeth or a dot of sauce just below their lip is likely to spur embarrassment, so noting that they’re covered in egg or raspberry or a gloopy mound of ketchup might be too much to bear. Harriet Moutsopoulos, though, helps her subjects save face by completely masking their distinct features with singular bites of fruit, bowls of ice cream, and slices of salami, ensuring their anonymity.
The Australian artist, who works under the name Lexicon Love, combines found portraits and edibles into strange collages. Although her techniques are digital, Moutsopolous often considers analog practices, preferring basic technologies to programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. She also imposes limits of two or three elements to maintain the integrity of each piece. “The most significant challenge for me is giving each artwork the slight imperfections of hand and the general look and feel of being made entirely from traditional, analog practices,” she says.
Moutsopolous tells Colossal that she’s “drawn to the surreal and unsettling and try to inject that into my work where possible, always seeking out the unexpected connections between humor and tragedy.” At times both comical and unsettling, the bizarre compilations inspire questions about the subjects’ identities. “On the surface, this absurd combination appears to reject any sense of reason (an extension of my own twisted sense of humor). However, obscuring the faces of my portraits with food is designed to not only challenge traditional notions of beauty but also to provoke, tease, and confuse the observer,” the artist says.
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A new short film by Optical Arts depicts what would be a dinner-party nightmare: ceramic plates and bowls shatter, red wine cascades from long-stemmed glasses, and sharp knives dive to the floor. Despite its explosive scenes, “Tocatta” subsequently shows the same dinnerware, drinks, and plates of boiled eggs seamlessly repair and float upward as whole objects.
A multivalent consideration of physical contact, the word “tocatta” both originates from an Italian form of “to touch” and refers to a musical composition designed to showcase the performer’s refined techniques. The reparative film is set to the opening section of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, one of the German composer’s most recognized works. Because of its discordant runs, the musical piece historically has been used in horror films, like Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Terence Fischer’s The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and Norman Jewison’s dystopic Rollerball (1975).
Written for organ, the eerie composition adds a foreboding element to the film. The dramatic piece explores “the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself,” the London-based creative studio writes in a statement. Another nod to the iconic composer, the dark, opening scenes are shots from Eisenach, Germany, where Bach was born and lived for the first few years of his life.
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the film as a CGI animation.
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A new photo series, titled Table For One, takes the proverbial saying that “you are what you eat” literally as it transforms model Tin Gao by sandwiching her between layers of cheese, lunchmeat, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomato in a bulging hoagie. Shot by photographer Annie Collinge, the bizarre series sees Gao morph from one food group to the next, whether as a stout tomato fashioned from a red jacket that covers the model from chin to ankle or stuffed into a peeled banana that mimics a sleeping bag.
With styling and art direction by James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks of Rottingdean Bazaar, the humorous photographs were shot for Luncheon Magazine. Watch the video of the resting chicken below to see a somewhat unsettling part of the project, and follow Collinge and Rottingdean Bazaar’s future collaborations on Instagram. (via Inag)
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Adam Hillman (previously) has taken recommendations to choose a balanced diet seriously. For each slice of Granny Smith apple, the New Jersey-based artist pairs a quartered cucumber, halved kiwi, and peeled plantain in a meticulous, color-coded arrangement.
Using produce, candy, and breakfast fare, Hillman organizes an array of perishables into patterns and geometric sequences, which he often shares on Instagram. “There’s something beautiful about working with something so transient, and the beauty of the materials is something that can only be preserved through photography long after the food within the photo has either rotted or been eaten,” he tells Colossal.
For those in need of another dose of nutrients, Hillman offers prints from Society6.
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While many people are spending their days starting batches of sourdough, Karin Pfeiff-Boschek has been busy baking sweet pies with mesmerizing arrangements that appear almost too pretty to eat. She tops each pastry with a delicate floral motif of flaky dough, a precisely arranged gradient of sliced fruit, or a checkered weave braided in rows.
The pastry designer tells Colossal that she was raised in a family of bakers, although pies weren’t her first form of artistic expression. “As a child, I enjoyed seeing, smelling, and eating the breads and pastries that both of my grandmothers made. Baking was traditional in our family in rural Germany, and when I was a young teenager, I began baking cakes and pastries for my brother and sister,” she writes. “I did not become a baker, however, but became interested in fabrics, eventually designing, dyeing, and creating my own works of textile art.”
After learning to make pies from her American mother-in-law, Pfeiff-Boschek merged her new culinary skills with her background in design, saying she “began to wonder whether one could decorate them in a manner similar to the way cakes are turned into works of art.” Employing her own techniques, Pfeiff-Boschek modified her mother-in-law’s original recipe in minor ways and opted for chilling the raw pastry in batches.
I found that by cooling the dough while creating decorations, using a very thin, sharp knife such as a scalpel and working very precisely it was possible to create ornate decorations that held their shape during baking. I make it a priority to also show the baked pie because regardless of how beautiful a pie may look before baking, it never will be served in that state and must look good after it comes out of the oven.
To alter the dough colors, Pfeiff-Boschek adds powders made from freeze-dried berries, spinach, and beetroot. She tends to bake sweet pies with peaches, apples, and other fruits, although occainsly assembles a savory version filled with meat and vegetables. Each creation takes between two and six hours to assemble and adorn. “I love nature, and many of my designs come from time I spend in our garden with our German shepherd dog, Halgrim. I am inspired by trees, leaves, and vines but also by classical geometric patterns and quite mundane articles, such as gully lids,” the designer says.
Many of Pfeiff-Boschek’s edible artworks have culminated in a book, Elegant Pie, and on her blog by the same name. To see both pre- and post-bake photographs, head to Instagram. You also might like Lauren Ko’s vibrant pies and tarts.
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Editor's Picks: Food
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.