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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Illinois-based Aleia Murawski and Sam Copeland have a knack for creating miniature—and slimy—worlds just big enough for their tiny acquaintances to glide through. The creative duo is known for constructing realistic domestic settings featuring plastic covered furniture and a messy painting studio occupied by snails for its stills and short films. Now, though, the artists are pushing the critters beyond their comfortable homes for a fun night out. The snails are shot sliding up to a limo, basking under the glimmer of a disco ball, and gobbling up a cheeseburger in a quaint diner.
“It is a really fun challenge for us to come up with these scenes and to find different ways to execute it so it feels believable and lived in, despite its fabrication,” Murawski told Colossal. The bowling scene utilizes a ball controlled by a magnet that the creators shot frame-by-frame as it moved along the alley. That set took multiple days to get right, she says, from using coffee stir sticks to build out the floor to employing a vacuum-foaming machine to construct each chair.
Murawksi says the duo’s process is “very rooted in play and experimentation. We are always looking for new ways to construct different elements in a scene and trying varied techniques to create depth and motion in our work.” To keep up with the snails’ shenanigans, head to Murawski’s Instagram. You can even buy a print of their slippery adventures to add to your collection.
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Gone are the days of full coverage beekeeping suits and padded gloves with the invention of a radical new hive by Italian company Beeing, which was founded by a third-generation bee keeper. B-box is the very first system designed for homes and urban environments, with a small footprint that can fit on even the tiniest of balconies or backyards. Not only does the simplified hive makes raising bees and harvesting honey easy for novices, it benefits the bees as well. A seven-foot-tall chimney ensures that bees remain out of range when coming in and out of the hive, while uniquely designed chambers present only small sections of the honeycomb so users are not disturbing or impacting the health of the hive by extracting a large sheet.
With 80% of the world’s food supply needing the help of bees, coupled with major threats to a declining bee population, it is more crucial than ever that solutions to this crisis are discovered and put into action. You can learn more about B-box in the video below, and contribute to their campaign by visiting IndieGoGo. (via designboom)
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Tucked into the estuary of the River Adur in the coastal town of Shoreham-on-Sea in Sussex, England is a row of houseboats in dazzlingly slapdash designs and bustling with the creative energy of its residents. One such person is Hamish McKenzie, an older man with swirls of gray hair shaved into his short beard and a laid-back attitude that comes from spending most of his days living inside of a docked boat. McKenzie owns seven of the uniquely designed vessels that line the riverbank, which include a renovated boat ambulance topped with a black and white checkered public bus and an airplane nose that caps off the bow.
McKenzie explains to Great Big Story that he had been searching for a nose cone for quite some time, and finally ran across one in a farmyard down the way from his houseboats. This ingenuity speaks to the freedom McKenzie and the other owners have while crafting their homes, which include microwaves as mailboxes and giant tractor wheels as windows. “I can safely say that there is no two identical,” explains McKenzie. “To a large degree, they exhibit the character of the people who live on them.”
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Swing House: A Three-Story Swing Suspended from the Ceiling of a Gutted Cincinnati Home by Mark deJong
From the outside, artist Mark deJong’s contemporary installation, Swing House, doesn’t particularly stand out from the other residences lining the street of Cincinnati’s Camp Washington neighborhood. The blue 19th-century building is narrowly built, and features charming architectural details that cap its windows and roof. The interior however, is remarkably different. All three levels of the home have been completely gutted to create an open floor plan void of any interior walls or floors, with a single swing positioned at the center of the space.
“Swing House is a piece of art in itself,” deJong tells Colossal. “All of my major decisions were based on the arc of the swing, which started by emptying out everything on the inside. The arc of the swing then dictated where the stairs to the basement went, as well as the placement of the bed and kitchen. While swinging, your feet miss those things with a considered clearance. You are able to swing way over both the bed and kitchen.”
The seat of the swing was formed from reddish pine salvaged from inside the home. Its natural-fiber rope attachments extend 30-feet into the air, and are secured into a metal beam from the home’s three-story ceiling. It is here that deJong painted a black and white hour glass shape, a nod to the motif of passing time represented in the pendulum-like swing.
The installation took three years to build, but had been a dream of deJong’s for nearly thirty. He originally thought of the idea shortly after finishing art school. “I stopped making art for 20 years, so this house was my leap back into the art world,” he explains. He has worked in construction for the past several decades, so this art-based house was a way for him to marry his formal training with his lifelong career.
DeJong is currently renovating another house on the same street which will also be mostly gutted, except for as set of freestanding stairs which will serve as the main focus. Objects created from salvaged elements of the Swing House are currently on view at his solo exhibition of the same name, which runs through September 2, 2018 at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. Tours of the home will occur throughout the duration of the exhibition. (via CityBeat)
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Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.