Fungi isn’t usually something we welcome indoors, but Estonian studio Myceen sees home decoration a bit differently. Focusing on furniture and interior design products, the team has found an enlightening application for mycelium, the fibrous root-like system produced by fungus that spreads below the Earth’s surface and gathers nutrients. “B-Wise” is a sustainably-grown pendant lamp (you read that right!) that combines one of nature’s most resilient materials with recycled byproducts into a light fixture that looks like it was just plucked from the soil.
The production of each piece begins with combining organic waste materials like sawdust and straw into a mold along with the mycelium, giving the organism five weeks’ worth of food to promote expansion. After that, the lampshade is removed from the mold and dehydrated to prevent any further growth.
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Within the confines of a canvas, Russian artist Ekaterina Popova nurtures the calm, familiar atmosphere of home. Her dreamlike interiors are comprised of blurred edges and thick brushstrokes in oil that cast a subtle haze over each scene, and Popova’s warm, impressionistic style lends itself to the lived-in feeling of her paintings: a quilt hangs off the edge of a mattress, a book rests in the window as if it was just set down by its reader, and the lunch remnants remain on a dressed table.
Often depicting her own bedroom and friends’ spaces, Popova focuses on an array of textures like slatted wood flooring, fur blankets, floral bedding, and lush foliage, and the natural light or soft glow of a lamp that illuminates the scenes bolsters their sense of comfort and intimacy. She explains:
For the past few years, I have been exploring interiors in my work. The interest started as a way for me to reflect on my upbringing in Russia, but eventually progressed to exploring the overall idea of “home” and what it means me now… My paintings include messy rooms, intimate items, and objects that refer to human presence without including the figure.
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Each year Nucleus Portland tasks hundreds of artists with creating original works on a miniature canvas usually reserved for dewy beverages. Salut! harnesses the friendly camaraderie associated with the word and gathers more than 1,000 coasters illustrated in an expansive variety of styles, including minimal color-blocked toucans, trippy starscapes, and dreamy, candid portraits. See some of Colossal’s favorite 4×4-inch pieces below, and browse the entire exhibition and available works, which are up online and in-person through July 5, on Nucelus’s site.
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When photographer Jean-Luc Feixa moved from Toulouse to Brussels, he began noticing the cultural, linguistic, and architectural differences between the two cities. “It may seem anecdotal,” he tells Colossal, “but the windows here are much larger than in France and easily disclose the house interiors.”
On his commute, Feixa often would pass the glass openings displaying robust collections, family mementos, and items for sale. “One day, I came across a group of children who seemed to be fascinated by a LEGO construction. It was quite captivating to see them commenting on this installation for many minutes. That was the trigger,” he says.
In the seven years since his relocation, Feixa has captured dozens of windows around the Belgian city, which he recently compiled in a book titled, Strange Things Behind Belgian Windows. Each provides not only a glimpse into the residents’ lives but also the objects they both intentionally and accidentally display. From a panda bear collection to a taxidermied fox to the finish line of a bike race, the objects encompass the cutesy and the odd and are always idiosyncratic. One display in particular—the homage to Elvis Presley (shown below)—has been exemplary of Feixa’s intention.
I talked for a long time with the couple. They are absolute fans of the King, and they were very moving. They decided to share their passion from behind their window. They really represent what I tried to convey with my series, that windows can be a perfect showcase to communicate a passion, send a message, reveal a part of oneself.
Since Belgians have begun quarantine, the photographer says windows have been transformed into a more intentional form of communication. “Whether to sell masks, encouraging people to stay home, or congratulating the medical staff, I see a lot of objects appearing, and it’s great to be able to continue the project,” he says. Feixa is hoping to chronicle this unusual period in a second volume.
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Since being quarantined inside her home in Buenos Aires, Lucía Morón has struggled with insomnia. “I have not been sleeping well and there are even days when I cannot seem to find the energy to get out of bed,” she says. As a way to manage her difficult moments, Morón has been documenting her uneasiness. “Photographing helps me to externalize and exorcise my inner fears, nightmares, and anxieties,” she says. “It has become a way of escape in which to express myself during (these) hard and lonely times.”
Morón’s joined more than 400 other womxn with similar practices on a collaborative project that’s helping to capture the mundane, monotonous, and worrisome moments in their lives. Organized by photographers Charlotte Schmitz and Hannah Yoon, The Journal is an extension of Women Photograph, which is an initiative led by Daniella Zalcman to elevate visual journalists who identify as non-binary or women.
While many photographs during the last few weeks have focused on hospitals, essential supplies, and frontline workers, The Journal retreats from the traumatic coverage in favor of intimacy. “Our collective photo project brings nuance to the way the current pandemic is being covered as we turn the camera on ourselves, our families, and the private space,” organizers said. It encompasses work from womxn in more than 80 countries and ensures that marginalized voices have a platform as freelance and media budgets are slashed globally.
Morón’s image (shown below) is black and white and depicts a single arm and leg at the left edge of the frame. It corresponds to her feelings of being “‘submerged’ in bed. As if I was trapped or being ‘eaten’ by my own bed,” she says. The puffy sheets resemble a dreamy, floating cloud, linking the image more directly to her insomnia.
While Morón has pivoted inward as a way to cope with her private emotions and feelings, though, other participants describe an experience that centers on their subject matter. For photojournalist Nyimas Laula, turning the camera to herself poses many difficulties because she typically focuses on others’ stories, not her own.
As a photojournalist, the biggest part of my job is listening to people that I’ll be photographing. My work has always been speaking about others, whether it’s addressing issues that I deeply care about or extension of voices from people that yet to be heard. In this isolation, I’m pushed to point the camera to myself, no one to ask, no one to speak to, other than myself. I constrain myself to this voluntary isolation out of responsibility to help contain the spread of the virus. I find myself deeply disoriented by that.
Now confined to her home in Indonesia, Laula has been capturing her surroundings and otherwise private life. She talks about an inner impulse she feels guiding her. “I’ve been photographing things around me, out of intuition, without any particular reason or stories. As if I’m trying to describe the complexity of feelings that I experience during isolation,” she says. “This time, I’m listening to myself, rediscovering myself. It might tell something about myself that I didn’t know before.”
Each week, The Journal’s curators announce a theme like nature, connection, or self-portrait that 8-10 participants from different countries work on together. Some shoot the images, while others provide creative guidance or edit. “As these relationships form, we can see important visual stories emerging, bringing representation to women and their stories from all over the world,” organizers said. Photographers are separated into intentionally diverse groups to ensure a variety of perspectives.
As the project continues, Morón hopes to direct conversations around the ongoing pandemic to new spaces. “We can find a certain relief from this difficult situation by changing its images. It’s like a trap. I think that many people will feel identified with our stories of quarantine,” she writes.
To see the growing collection of global dispatches, follow The Journal on Instagram.
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Domestic Perfectionism Overwhelms Faceless Women in a Satirical Series by Photographer Patty Carroll
Patty Carroll’s homebound snapshots are the epitome of domestic pressure: A high-heeled working woman tries to cook and chat on the phone but ends up amid scattered kitchen supplies with her head stuck in the oven. Mops and rags knock another figure down into a sea of neon sponges and cleaning sprays. Two seated women are obscured by constricting drapes and an inordinate amount of fresh produce.
The photographer’s four-part Anonymous Women series is comprised of highly stylized scenes featuring a faceless mannequin attempting—and failing to complete—a range of duties. They’re humorous commentary on the pressure modern women continually face to achieve domestic perfection while excelling professionally and caring for others.
The interior of the home is comforting, but can also camouflage individual identity, especially when the idealized decor becomes an obsession, or indication of position or status…. The “constructed” images in the ongoing series are of home turned inside out, where things are topsy-turvy and scale is variable. Decoration is out of control, and the woman of the house is lost in her own madness.
Carroll began the satirical project after moving to Britain and finding her professional accomplishments disregarded. “Being known as Mrs. Jones rather than the independent, teacher, photographer Patty Carroll sent me into a small identity crisis. I made photographs of vulnerable, stark heads hiding behind various domestic objects as my initial response to this predicament,” she said in a recent interview with Aint-Bad.
One installment of the series, “Domestic Demise,” touches on contemporary issues of consumption, as well, and “is when the woman becomes a victim of her own obsessions and activities. She is no longer in control and life is a series of mishaps and mayhem,” the photographer said. Having too many books, too many items lining the pantry shelves, and too many alcoholic drinks overwhelm the women.
Carroll previously employed models for her drapery series, but as her scenarios got more complex and took longer to shoot, she switched to mannequins. She constructs each chaotic scene within an 8 x 8 frame. Her influences include “colorful vintage movies, traditional still-life paintings, decorating magazines, my suburban upbringing, the game of clue, and even Victorian writing,” she wrote in a statement.
Since being confined to her home due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and because of a recent appendectomy, Carroll says the mundane and oppressive requirements of domestic life are inescapable. “It is hard to ponder larger issues when we are confined to our homes and are concerned with the everyday, seemingly meaningless issues of cooking, cleaning, eating, sleeping, and what is on Netflix for entertainment,” she said. “Nevertheless, all of my photographs are about those simple, ordinary, yet overwhelming tasks that we carry out every day.”
For more of Carroll’s identity-questioning work, pick up her recently released monograph that’s available from Aint-Bad and or a photograph from Catherine Couturier Gallery. Watch videos of the draped women as they attempt their domestic duties on Vimeo, and follow Carroll’s upcoming projects on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Editor's Picks: Design
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