Stay Afloat.

Every Moment Counts, 1989, Rotimi Fani-Kayode.

Every Moment Counts, 1989, Rotimi Fani-Kayode.

Conversation with a Mannequin, 2013, Kelvin Atmadibrata performance for the camera.

Conversation with a Mannequin, 2013, Kelvin Atmadibrata
performance for the camera.

Lovers Lane, 2016, Sharmar Johnson White pencil Black paper, 22x28.

Lovers Lane, 2016, Sharmar Johnson
White pencil Black paper, 22×28.

A Pile of Crowns, for Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1988, Keith Haring acrylic on canvas, 108x120, Keith Haring artwork © Keith Haring Foundation.

A Pile of Crowns, for Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1988, Keith Haring
acrylic on canvas, 108×120,
Keith Haring artwork © Keith Haring Foundation.

…“In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” Reflecting on this quote by Audre Lorde, I know that these sentiments are the way forward. Although, I am honestly a bit anxious about the next four years, I see strength and intelligence in these artists. I love the humor in RALPH HALL’s piece Bassethound, which pictures a fluorescent dog with butt plug. I also salute the tenacity of young artists like Kia Labeija. As seen in all their work, many of the artists in the Visual AIDS Artist+ Registry share the same love of an eclectic bunch of leaders that I do. We stand on the shoulders of heroes, like Harriet Tubman, Gordon Parks, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Grace Jones, Frankie Knuckles, Lady Bunny, Marlon Riggs, Tina Turner and countless others. Brave hearts are not a new concept; this struggle is part of our DNA.

The featured gallery from Visual Aids December 2016. Beautiful, poignant work, you can see it all here.

Neil Patrick Harris is Count Olaf.

After years of chasing a laugh track on How I Met Your Mother, the actor is following roles in Gone Girl and American Horror Story with Netflix’s new Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on the classic children’s books. In the new super-stylized series, Harris stars as the villainous Olaf, who becomes the guardian of three orphans solely to abscond with their fortune.

“I’m drawn to puzzles and darkness,” says Harris. “The Alfred Hitchcock–y vibe is something I’ve been into since I was kid, and I loved Gene Wilder’s take on Willy Wonka and Bridge to Terabithia.”

Aside from being just plain rotten, Harris’s alter ego is also a rotten aspiring musical-theater actor — basically, a much crappier, much uglier version of himself.

“Playing someone so miserable makes things hard to complain about,” says Harris, who spends two and a half hours having prosthetics applied for the role. “I can ingest my annoyances and use them.”

Going by the trailer, Harris also infuses the role of Count Olaf with humor. A performance to look forward to, along with the rest of the cast.

Via Out.

The Phantom Atlas.

I love maps. I have a calendar up which is comprised of antique maps. Cartography is a colourful and wonderful art, as well as a record of how we thought at various stages. The farther you go back, the more fascinating maps are, and it’s not just the artwork. Of course they were terribly wrong, and wrought more of imagination than anything else, but there is such wonder and awe! So many places that turned out to have existence in the mind, so many magical creatures which weren’t. Now you can explore The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps by Edward Brooke-Hitching. (Yes, I noted the Simon & Schuster UK, and I’m not happy about it.)

Sea monsters on Olaus Magnus’s “Carta marina et description septemtrionalium terrarum ac mirabilium” (“Nautical Chart and Description of the Northern Lands and Wonders”) (1527–39).

Sea monsters on Olaus Magnus’s “Carta marina et description septemtrionalium terrarum ac mirabilium” (“Nautical Chart and Description of the Northern Lands and Wonders”) (1527–39).

“This is an atlas of the world — not as it ever existed, but as it was thought to be,” Brooke-Hitching writes in an introduction. “The countries, islands, cities, mountains, rivers, continents, and races collected in this book are all entirely fictitious; and yet each was for a time — sometimes for centuries — real. How? Because they existed on maps.”

Mythical islands were often copied by mapmakers, who, for instance, could not easily voyage out to the Southern Hemisphere to see if it did indeed have the giant Terra Australis continent. The Phantom Atlas includes Hy Brasil, recently the subject of a Boston Public Library exhibition, which stayed on maps for five centuries, and had tales of a sorcerer who lived with huge black rabbits and, later, UFOs. Although Brooke-Hitching features extremes of credulity, like a 40-foot “sea worm” that roamed the shores of Norway on a 16th-century map by Olaus Magnus, he also cites more recent mistakes. Sandy Island was recorded in the eastern Coral Sea by a whaling ship in 1876, and it wasn’t until November 2012 that it was deemed fictional. And in the 19th century, there were still those who believed in a flat Earth, such as Professor Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, South Dakota, who in 1893 illustrated a map arguing for this planar view of the planet, which he based on biblical texts.

What makes Brooke-Hitching’s book more than just a collection of oddities is the emphasis on why these errors happen, and how relying on religion at the exclusion of science, or valuing outsider reports ahead of indigenous knowledge, detrimentally impacted centuries of exploring.

Map of the Arctic by Gerardus Mercator (first printed 1595, edition from 1623), with the mythical “Rupes Nigra” magnetic black rock at the North Pole.

Map of the Arctic by Gerardus Mercator (first printed 1595, edition from 1623), with the mythical “Rupes Nigra” magnetic black rock at the North Pole.

There’s much, much more at Hyperallergic.

The Painting Hated by the GOP.

David Pulphus's painting in response to the Ferguson unrest, "Untitled #1", won first place in Missouri's 1st Congressional District in the 2016 United States Congressional Art Competition.

David Pulphus’s painting in response to the Ferguson unrest, “Untitled #1”, won first place in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District in the 2016 United States Congressional Art Competition.

Each year since 1982, the Congressional Institute has sponsored a high school art competition whereby students submit artwork to their congressional representative’s office, which in turn selects a winner. The 435 winning artworks are then exhibited in Washington, DC, hung salon style in a hallway between the Capitol Building and Longworth House Office Building for a year. The office of Representative William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from St. Louis, Missouri, selected a painting by Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School senior David Pulphus in early May 2016. Early this month, the untitled painting was hung in the Capitol. A few days later, the Independent Journal Review, a right-wing website with a mixed record on factual reporting, published an article titled, “Painting of Cops as Pigs Hung Proudly in US Capitol.” A cycle of outrage began. Fox News picked up the story. In a ginned up moment, Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican from San Diego, California unscrewed the painting from the wall, delivered it to Representative Clay’s office, and went to Fox News to brag about it. Today, Representative Clay and members of the Congressional Black Caucus rehung the painting. Shortly thereafter Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, removed it again, only to have Representative Clay rehang it again. Congressional Republicans are discussing how to remove it permanently.

The full story is at Hyperallergic. For people who almost never shut up about being persecuted or censored (or criticized), conservatives are always the first ones to try and censor anything they don’t like.

ModaMorfosis.

A Chilean artist is creating outlandish, eye-catching garments specifically to ensure that they won’t be ignored. Ingrato is the alter ego of Sebastián Plaza Kutzbach, a creative producer at The University of Chile, who uses traditional textile processes to make garments that are designed to attract attention. Kutzbach tells The Creators Project why he invented the alter ego and what he’s trying to do with it: “The project was born because of the need to show the artisan’s work that exists in my country and its devalued state because of the textile industry. Everything that I display as ‘Ingrato’ is handmade.”

Chile has a rich history of textile art. The Mapuche, for example, are an indigenous Chilean culture that are known for traditional garments, which were once so highly valued that one of their ponchos could be traded for multiple horses. Kutzbach is concerned that Chilean garments now have to compete with a globalized textile industry that’s decreasing their worth in comparison to cheaper, factory-made garments. Kutzbach’s intention is to highlight the artistry behind Chilean textiles, especially their handmade qualities, and to illustrate their creative possibilities. “The concept seeks to intervene the human body in different ways,” says Kutzbach. And considering that Ingrato translates to “ungrateful,” it seems that one intervention that Kutzback is determined to achieve is an increase in appreciation for the skilled labor involved with textile production.

Photo: Mairo Arde.

Photo: Mairo Arde.

The full story is at The Creators Project.

Rise Up Thy Young Blood.

A group of artists whose political artwork work became headline news during the rise of Donald Trump are working together to turn activists’ and artists’ blood into a painting called RISE UP THY YOUNG BLOOD. Contributing to the painting can be seen as quite literally a blood oath, with participants pledging to resist the real estate mogul-turned-politician’s potential presidential policies aimed at targeting women, immigrants, and minorities.

Late last year, Illma Gore, who allegedly received legal threats from members of the Trump campaign for her depiction of Trump with a micropenis, began working with INDECLINE, a guerilla collective that coordinated the simultaneous installation of nude Trump statues in five US cities. In December, Gore issued a call to arms encouraging the art community to challenge the president-elect at every available opportunity. Now, her collaboration with INDECLINE is the first of several planned anti-Trump art actions in the first year of his presidency.

RISE UP THY YOUNG BLOOD begins with a blood drive on January 13, in which “high profile donors from the world of art, music, graffiti and activism,” will contribute up to a pint of blood each. INDECLINE will coordinate the event with an anonymous blood bank, revealing the location to only confirmed donors and documenting the entire process. They’ll deliver the sanguine fluid to Gore, who will produce a blood-red painting, loosely based on the American Flag, to be hung at LA’s Samuel Freeman Gallery on January 15. Gore has already started painting using blood her own blood and donations from INDECLINE members. Germophobes, relax: the painting will be sealed with acrylic to make it safe for viewing.

The full, in-depth article and interview is at The Creators Project.

Territory.

‘Shit, the monkeys are here…’

The Rock of Gibraltar is an imposing limestone monolith, towering 426 metres over the Mediterranean Sea on the southern coast of Spain in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Its prominent place in European myths and its impressive views have long made it a draw for tourists, as has the population of Barbary macaques inhabiting the Gibraltar Nature Reserve on the rock’s upper reaches. However, the macaques aren’t bothered by human-imposed borders, frequently venturing off the reserve and into town, where they wreak mischief on tourists and residents alike. Subtly and playfully observed, Eleanor Mortimer’s amusing short documentary Territory puts us on the ground in the ongoing, low-key turf war between the people of Gibraltar and the clever primate cousins who are utterly indifferent to their will.

Via Aeon, where you can see the video full size.

Creepy Nuts.

https://youtu.be/JEUOTHxL8Xw

I can’t claim to understand the words, but I understand the idea well enough, and love the music. The dancing is fabulous, too.

Next month Creepy Nuts are releasing their 2nd mini album and the title track is called joendanyusho (above), which means “award for best supporting actor” in Japanese. The track is upbeat, catchy and more poppy than some of their previous songs. It’s clearly aimed at a broader audience but does a good job of showcasing the versatile talents of the two, who blend elements of j-pop, jazz and Japanese traditional music into their sound.

Their music videos are often humorous and parody some of Japan’s more absurd institutionalizations. And this video is no different. In it, R-Shitei and DJ Matsunaga get swept up into the Japanese pop music factory. They’re quickly replaced by better-looking versions of themselves and the music video chronicles the rise and fall of their own success as their image gets manipulated and eventually spit out by the factory.

There’s a lot to see (including a jab at Pico-Taro and his Justin Beiber-induced rise to fame) and the video moves as quickly as the lyrics so try and keep up.

There’s more at Spoon & Tamago.

The Little Deputy.

In The Little Deputy, the Canadian director Trevor Anderson revisits a memory from a rare father-son outing in 1986, when a shopping mall photographer at a Wild West-themed photo booth handed him a sparkly red dress. It’s uncertain whether the photographer really mistook the boy for a girl, or instead sensed something about him that no one else quite realised. But, even then, Trevor knew that as an adult he would want to have that picture of himself in the dress. He didn’t dare, though, so years later, he finds a way to fulfill that wish.

Inventive, moving and darkly funny, Anderson’s short film about being gay but not quite out was a festival favourite in 2015, appearing at the Sundance Film Festival and AFI Fest, among many others.

Via Aeon.

Shunsuke Tani.

Absolutely mindblowing, this. Delight and joy in every look. Shunsuke Tani builds coin sculptures, which can, and do fall apart now and then, but the beauty of these ephemeral sculptures can’t be denied.

coin-stacking-art-top-e1483021280418

With a little bit of creativity and, occasionally, a whole lot of patience, any household item can be turned into material for art. And it’s often the most mundane of items that have the greatest impact. For Shunsuke Tani, a young biologist major-turned childcare specialist, it was spare change that was lying around his house that became one of his greatest passions.

Specifically, Tani primarily uses 1 and 5 yen coins, the lowest of denominations, and the occasional 500 yen or foreign currency coin, to create stunning, gravity-defying sculptures that, at any moment, look like the could come tumbling down. And indeed they do. To prove to skeptics who, understandably, claim he uses glue or some advanced form of computer graphics to render his creations, Tani occasionally shares videos of his sculptures falling down. It’s a painful moment that stands in stark contrasts with the hours of time and patience required for assembly.

coin-stacking-art-4

Tani posts his creations to a twitter account where he often shares how much time each sculpture took to create (usually 2 – 3 hours). He also adds some self-deprecating humor like “I have no other skills in life, other than this” or “I sacrificed 2 hours of my life.”

According to an interview, Tani originally began stacking coins about 4 years ago. The inspiration came from the simple act of stacking a 10 and 1 yen coin had with him at the time. Tani’s art is a testament to the fact that even the most simple and ordinary can be honed to perfection.

coin-stacking-art-1

There’s much more at Spoon & Tamago. And yes, I’ll probably give this a try, or at least make Rick try, we have the obligatory huge jar of coins. Don’t hold your breath though, I’ve never been good with coins, outside spending them. :D

Speechless. Just Speechless.

The one good reason I can come up with for wanting to live longer is to have time, more time to discover all the amazing artists in the world. Ippitsuryu. Did you know about this? I didn’t, and I haven’t managed to pick my jaw up just yet. Truly amazing technique, unique. And so beyond impressive, I don’t have words, I’m right back to being speechless. Ippitsuryu, the art of painting single stroke dragons. Look at this:

WOW, right? I could watch that 10 more times a least, and probably will. It’s like watching magic happen.

single-stroke-dragon1

Fumiko Takase holding up a completed ippitsuryu painting.

In Japan’s Nikko region there exists an artistic tradition known as ippitsuryu: ippitsu (sometimes called hitofude) meaning single-stroke and ryu meaning dragon. It’s a technique, passed down from generation to generation and kept tightly in the family, of creating the flowing, river-like body of the dragon in just a single stroke.

The artist will typically begin by creating a detailed depiction of the head. Once that is completed the artist moves on to the single-stroke-body. Here, the large brush slowly traverses the canvas, making gentle twists and turns, never once being lifted up until the body is complete. Later, the artist goes back and adds details like whiskers and claws.

The current proprietor to the tradition is claimed by Fumiko Takase, the 3rd in the Takase Family. The tradition is carried on by her siblings and she is also training her son. The tradition, however, is not without controversy. Just steps from Takase’s shop and studio in Nikko is another family, the Kousyu Family, who also practices the same tradition.

According to the Takase Family, a member of the Kousyu Family stole the technique several years ago and then opened up shop claiming to be legitimate proprietors. The Takase Family has a detailed account on their website as to how the technique was stolen. They also have a family tree showing the descendants. The Kousyu Family has no mention of this on their website.

There’s much more at Spoon & Tamago. Who doesn’t love amazing dragons?