A steel slatted roof ripples across a property in southwestern Ontario, providing a meditative enclave under its gently sloping cover. Contrasting the stark black metal with softer strips of cedar, “Fold House” by Partisans features a two-story living quarter with a lengthy undulating structure that branches out from one side. It’s bisected by a staircase leading to an upper walkway and covers a luxe in-ground pool.
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Sixty migrating elephants pass between Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace in London’s Green Park in one of nine herds roaming throughout the city. The lumbering creatures are part of an ongoing collaboration between two nonprofits, CoExistence and Elephant Family, that explores how humans can better live alongside animals and the larger ecosystem through imaginative public art projects.
As its name suggests, CoExistence’s aim is to identify mutually beneficial modes of living considering that within the last century, the balance between world population and wilderness has shifted considerably: in 1937, 66 percent of global environments were intact with 2.3 billion people on Earth. Today, those numbers have undergone a dramatic change, with a world population of 7.8 billion and only 35 percent of wilderness remaining.
The organization’s most recent effort brings the gargantuan animals to urban spaces throughout London that are typically closed off to wildlife. The herds can be spotted in St. James’s Park, Berkeley Square, and even the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s homes at Highgrove. In addition to generating awareness of environmental crises, the installations raise funds to support grassroots organizations throughout India that promote Indigenous culture and establish technology and infrastructure that allows humans and animals to live symbiotically.
CoExistence plans to install approximately 500 animals around the world in the next few years, and with the help of The Real Elephant Collective, each nation will receive a herd designed specifically for the location. The collective partners with Indigenous communities from the Tamil Nadu jungle in southern India, who live alongside the real-life animals, to create the sculptural iterations that stand up to 15 feet tall and weigh nearly 800 pounds. Each creature is constructed from long strips of lantana camara, an invasive weed that spreads in dense thickets and disturbs the environment—the video below documents the process—and by removing the plant, the artists help to reinstate the natural ecosystem.
Thirty-seven endangered and extinct birds will join the herd in Green Park on July 6. Using steel, clay, and bronze, seven artists created the flock, which includes a three-meter-tall curlew by Simon Gudgeon that’s as large as some of the elephants. The avian additions are the product of a collaboration with WildEast, a group focused on restoring biodiversity in the U.K. and finding new methods of sustainable farming, and will be sold to raise money for conservation efforts.
To support CoExistence’s efforts, you can donate or commission one of the elephants, and there are smaller goods and prints available in its shop. Follow the herds’ movements on the nonprofit’s Instagram, and see more on Elephant Family’s account.
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A new installation by Paul Cocksedge (previously) creates an endless circuit of coiling wood in Hong Kong’s Yue Man Square. Made of sustainably sourced timber, “Time Loop” evokes the infinity symbol and represents the city’s history of continual growth and change. A poem written in two languages is engraved in the spiraling structure, which stretches more than nine meters across and three meters tall to allow passersby to stop and rest amidst the bustling environment. “When people sit on ‘Time Loop,’ they become part of the movement of the city, as well as its transformation,” Cocksedge says. “It reflects a place that’s endured for many years, but remains constantly moving and evolving. And that’s the symbolism of the form.”
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Russian photographer Daniel Kordan (previously) is adept at locating extraordinary environments around the world—he captured this dazzling series of Japan’s firefly mating season a few months ago—and his recent excursion to the Socotra archipelago is similarly enchanting. Situated between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea, the remote island is populated by dragon blood trees, an evergreen species with upturned branches that splay outward and produce a bristling canopy.
Kordan’s photographs, which are shot at dawn, golden hour, and under a star-illuminated sky, frame this unique growth pattern that leaves the trees’ gnarled wood underbelly exposed. Combined with the deep red sap that seeps from its trunk, this otherworldly feature ties the species to local lore. “According to legend, the first dragon blood tree was created from the blood of a dragon who was wounded in a battle with an elephant,” the photographer says.
Kordan details the techniques and equipment he used in Socotra in a post about his travels, which you can follow on Instagram. He also has dozens of photographs of the white-sand deserts and life on the Yemeni island available as prints in his shop.
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Metallic Specimens by Dr. Allan Drummond Perfectly Replicate Prehistoric and Modern Insects in Bronze and Silver
Dr. Allan Drummond works at the intersection of art, design, and science with his metallic replicas of wide-eyed spiders, ants, and other winged insects. He buoys his research in the departments of Medicine and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago into a creative practice that casts biologically realistic specimens with a focus on anatomical elements of prehistoric organisms most likely to be lost in the fossil record, including underbellies.
Each creature starts with a digital rendering created in Blender that’s 3D-printed in individual pieces—you can see examples of these initial models on Instagram. Drummond then casts the replica in bronze or silver with the help of jewelry designers in his current city of Chicago and later assembles and finishes the metallic components, which results in a meticulous copy of the actual insect whether life-sized or enlarged to magnify its features.
In a note to Colossal, he writes that the body of work shown here utilizes more advanced techniques than his previous models and came together with the help of two mentors, sculptor Jessica Joslin and the jewelry designer Heather Oleari. “Feeling the pieces for the thorn bug snap together in my hands—a total rush—was less a relief from stress and more a confirmation that, at least when it comes to building giant metal arthropods, I know what I’m doing,” he says.
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Brazillian artist Ernesto Neto (previously) is known for his enormous, fiber-based installations that plunge viewers into a multi-sensory landscape of organic elements: people are encouraged to walk through canals of stretched yarn and grasp the structural weavings, while spicy scents like turmeric and cumin are often diffused throughout the room.
Similarly immersive and imposing, Neto’s latest work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is one of his largest to date. “SunForceOceanLife” is a hand-crocheted, walkable maze of yellow, orange, and green threads that stretch 79 feet across the gallery and spiral 12 feet in the air. The pliable installation centers around “fire, the vital energy that enables life on this planet,” the artist says, sharing that each polymer string utilized is burned at the end to further infuse the piece with sacred, meditative rituals. “I hope that the experience of this work will feel like a chant made in gratitude to the gigantic ball of fire we call the sun, a gesture of thanks for the energy, truth, and power that it shares with us as it touches our land, our oceans, and our life,” he writes.
Plastic balls also fill the pathway and shift underfoot, which forces those passing through the suspended structure to intentionally maintain their balance. Neto explains:
It directly engages the body as does a joyful dance or meditation, inviting us to relax, breathe, and uncouple our body from our conscious mind. The sensation of floating, the body cradled by the crocheted fruits of our labor, brings to mind a hammock: the quintessential indigenous invention that uplifts us and connects us to the wisdom and traditions of our ancestors.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.