Berndnaut Smilde is a Netherlands-based photographer who is making tidal waves in the art world with his Surrealist photographs of luminous weather clouds placed in unorthodox situations. Petra Power takes a look at this emerging contemporary artist in the midst of his ever growing art career.
Clouds in particular have always had strong metaphysical connections. Depending on the context, clouds can symbolise many things, from signs of ominousness and misfortune, to something that can captivate one’s imagination. Smilde uses a smoke machine to produce these symbolic billowing clouds; once the dense mist is released the humidity is reduced in the room to allow the smoke to take shape and be captured on camera. The process is incredibly tedious and often comes with some technical difficulty – the room has to be cold and damp enough for the moisture to stick to the smoke, and then it has to be photographed during a brief time frame before the cloud dissipates.
Nimbus’ is a project that explores the presence of clouds, existing in-between reality, state, image and deconstruction. The clouds are placed in various ‘unconventional’ transitional spaces, abandoned or vacant rooms, engaging with corridors, elevators and numerous staircases. Primarily concerned with the concept of ephemerality, the crux of these works is to document ‘happenings’. The mass of smoke is pictured during its very brief moment of existence before disappearing into a short-lived haze. The works draw on inspiration from the concept of time, permanence and temporality, and how these three concepts are constantly in tension with one another. The situation of duality, inside and outside, furthermore asks questions pertaining to the notion of the in-between, uncanny and surreal. Relating to Sigmund Freud’s concept of the uncanny, the notion of the strange cannot exist without the non-strange. Familiarity in this case is positioned in the spaces that Smilde injects the clouds, and the depiction of the unnatural is articulated through placing the clouds out of its ordinary context.
Smilde’s work is essentially theatrical; hovering clouds of luminous vapour float through rooms and hallways of buildings, everything is considered to create the desired result, including space and lighting. The visual impact between transience and the physicality of space is demonstrated in Nimbus Green Room (2013), which is one of Smilde’s seminal works. Again questioning the functionality of materials and its presence in an architectural context, this work delicately balances smoke, moisture and light. In his most recent work Smilde has begun to work with aerogol, also known as ‘frozen smoke’. The material is made from 99.8% air and is photographed hovered over miniature models of buildings.
Smilde has presented his works in a number of major galleries including London’s Ronchini Gallery. Titled ‘The Uncanny’ this exhibition took place between January and February 2013 and featured works alongside Adeline de Monseignat. The showing also included a number of works which drew on the relationship with artists and their materials. Smilde has also exhibited at ‘Out of Focus’, Saatchi Gallery, London (2012). In addition, his works are part of major art collections such as the Smithsonian, Saatchi and Bonnefantenmuseum, to name a few. With such an impressive resume and recognition in the art world as a growing contemporary artist, Smilde is set to continue to stimulate public interest through his work. Akin to the Surrealists, he will continue to develop this compelling practice which lends itself to the evocation of beauty, uncertainty and duality through the exploration of material and architectural space.
Berndnaut Smilde is currently represented by Ronchini Gallery, London. An exhibition of new work will take place in April 2014.
We've all heard about people fighting for a cause and protesting, but I doubt we've heard of anyone nailing their nuts to stone pavement! Would you have the balls to do that?
Petr Pavlensky, born in 1984, studied Mural Art in St.Petersburg Art and Industry Academy. He was well known for his political action in support of the Russian punk group called Pussy Riot. He had set up many performances "Act and Art for Cause" I would say, but the one that topped the list among his outrageous performances was when he nailed his balls into the cobblestones of Red square, close to Lenin's Mausoleum, Moscow.
His actions had coincided with the annual Russian Police Day, where he sat and hammered a large nail through his scrotum and fixated it into the cobblestones of Red Square, Moscow. He sat there for a while until the police showed up, putting a blanket around him. They steadily removed the nail and rushed him to the hospital. He was soon arrested after that. In his statement to the media, he said, "A naked artist looking at his balls nailed to the Kremlin pavement, is a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of contemporary Russian society."
He was known for his violent and so called artistic for a cause acts, where at one time he sewed his mouth shut with coarse thread, and held a banner that read,
"Action of Pussy Riot was a replica of the famous action of Jesus Christ (Matthew,21:12-13)."
He later made a comment about this action which said,"By suturing my mouth in front of Kazan Cathedral, I wanted to show the position of the artist in contemporary Russia: a ban on publicity. I am sickened by intimidation of society, mass paranoia, whose manifestations I see everywhere."
FaceResearch.org, a site run by two psychologists at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, features software that can average together faces from thousands of photos. These images purportedly show the average face of women and men from 40 different nationalities.
Well this could probably be the most convienient meal a python could have had. Apparently, ate up a whole man in India. The guy was passed out cold after a night of partying and ended in some strange place. Pythons are constrictors and they seek out their prey by sensing their heat. Its most likely that the python came across the drunk fellow, sensed his immobile presence and the body heat and coiled around him in order to suffocate him while passed out. Even if he woke up and realized what was happening it would have been too late. Note to self: Do not get drunk and passed out in strange places especially in India, but now I guess I can say that for Florida as well now that many Python pet owners released their pet snakes into the wild after they could no longer care for them.
I always imagined a time when zombies really did exist. I wondered if I would be the one who survived or the one who died a horrible gut spilling death! To my horror, I came across this place in the world, known for its freaky death rituals, and one of my worst nightmares came true. The Walking Dead is real!
Yes, I had that non believing look on my face too when I first saw it too but after research and dedicated zombie stalking I can finally say it is very very true. You better believe me when I say this, because the walking dead just got real in Indonesia!
Okay, maybe without all the frightening suspense and overly done decomposing fake skin, but it is just as genuine as you can imagine. In the city of Tana Toraja, it is customary to bury the dead in the city of their birth. Funerals around these areas is both expensive and quite complex. So let us just say, burying a loved one to rest in eternal peace isn't a piece of cake.
To the people of Toraja, seeing a corpse walk from one place to another is something quite normal. Are you shivering yet? There are many versions of how and why this weird tradition is carried out. One version is that there are a certain few who can raise the dead to life. The reason behind this is that the families of the dead look for a burial site that’s kinder to their finances. When one is found, they want to clean out the corpse and make it deathly new again. After this, the dead are made to magically walk towards their new and final resting place.
Most people called this a trick, a hoax, a phony. But it does exist! With the legends and folk lore that back the city of Tana Toraja up, it is true that this scary stuff exists. Believe it!