“We can use art for deep change – when we undertake the journey of individuation, we can move beyond survival needs and encounter truly beautiful territory,” writes Abigail in a description of this series. “These images remind me that I can always hold myself to my greatest possibilities, that I no longer need to pretend that the conventional is something I want in any form at all … what I want is real, deep, never-ending change. A feeling of the power of choice in creating reality. The second we free ourselves of the half-truth that we are bound to the organizational templates of society and culture is the precious moment we start to self-define and steer our own ship … Who knows where we will arrive?”
And just so that you don’t think Russian children’s books are all sunshine and rainbows, here’s an illustrated version of the French tale Bluebeard from the Soviet era. For all the full images, click here.
We often talk of how Disney films teach children outmoded lessons about gender – both boys and girls receive terrible lessons about how to construct their identity. Cinderella, for instance, teaches us that “if you’re beautiful enough, you may be able to escape your terrible living conditions by getting a wealthy man to fall for you.” The Little Mermaid says, “it’s okay to abandon your family, drastically change your body, and give up your strongest talent in order to get your man. Once he sees your pretty face, only a witch’s spell could draw his eyes away from you.”
Perhaps it’s good to have a children’s book that tells the story of misogyny straight-up, without wrapping it up with singing animal sidekicks and happy marriages. Beautiful illustrations, creepy tale.
Cvetik-Semicvetik, or “the flower with seven colors,” is a beloved tale from the USSR. There are manydifferentillustratedversions out there, but perhaps the most trippy one comes from the mind of Russian artist Benjamin Losin. Losin apparently illustrated two different versions of this book, both of which are included here.
The story, lots more lush illustrations, plus a 1948 cartoon version of the tale, after the cut!
The powerfully enchanting Larkin Grimm, previously interviewed by Angeliska on the Coilhouse blog and featured in Issue Four of our print issue, has a new album coming out next month! You can read about what she’s been up to recently, and preview/download her song “Paradise And So Many Colors” at the Village Voice website.
Last year, the sartorial site StyleLikeU (oh good gracious, LOVE these ladies) posted a wonderful “Closet Feature” on Grimm. It’s as endearing a portrait of the woman as you’ll find anywhere:
Sometimes, when creative and inspired people get together to collaborate on making imagery in a specific vein that no one’s attempted before, a special kind of magic happens. Case in point, this elaborate photo series independently produced by Jessica Rowell of J-Chan Designs and photographer Nina Pak in cahoots with model Elizabeth Maiden:
Κατάρα της Αθηνάς, η μοίρα της Μέδουσας Αθηνάς: Elizabeth Maiden Μέδουσας: Jessica Rowell of J-Chan’s Designs Photography: Nina Pak Costume Design & Styling: J-Chan’s Designs Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Ancient Greek lore and steampunk culture clash, titan style, in a sumptuous mythos-meets-modernity photo series depicting the Goddess Athena (Elizabeth Maiden) and the Gorgon Medusa (Jessica Rowell).
According to legend, the once ravishing Medusa was cursed with a monstrous appearance after “seducing” Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, under the roof of Athena’s sacred temple. Hence, this series title (which, translated into English, means) “Athena’s curse, Medusa’s fate.”
Rowell pulled “inspiration from Desmond Davis’ 1981 film Clash of the Titans, then put an atemporal spin on things by incorporating several contemporary ingredients that “also felt industrial and familiar to alternative culture.”
“boy·taur \’boi-tawr\ n 1 : a guy with four (or more) legs 2 : a guy with any of a variety of multilimb or other transformations 3 : a guy who enjoys the company of boytaurs, and is thus a boytaur in spirit”
“There’s something wildly, almost primally, attractive about a guy with four legs: the crowding of long, sculpted thigh muscle, the four calf muscles bobbing and working in rhythm with his four-legged walk, the four strong male feet supporting his powerful boytaur body. Boytaurs know this attraction well, and it is our constant joy, both to have and to share.”
“Of course, many boytaurs don’t stop with four legs. Some add more legs, going six-legged or more. Some add extra arms. And many, enjoying all their boytaur feet, decide to go wristfooted as well.”
“Other boytaurs have completely different transformations, or none at all, but are still boytaurs in spirit, enjoying their augmented bodies, and sharing that joy freely. boytaur.net is dedicated to helping that sharing go on across the internet, all around the world.”
(un)Naturally, we can’t have Centaur Week without posting one of Joel-PeterWitkin‘s most famous works, riffing off the classical Greek “Kentauros & Eros” motif…
“Cupid and Centaur” by Joel-Peter Witkin (1992)
(Preaching to the choir, here, but) Is there another photographer living whose sublime darkroom necromancy conveys quite the same level of beauty, horror, ferocity, compassion, grace and grotesquerie as Witkin’s? Doubtful.
The advent of animated features and silent films remains one of the most significant accomplishments of the 20th century. Sadly, before celluloid preservation standards were set in place, much of the early studio output of the 1920s was lost or damaged beyond repair. One of those pieces is an animated film, The Centaurs, produced by Windsor McCay in 1921. Of the sole print, which disintegrated due to negligent storage, only about 90 seconds have been salvaged.
The animation style is quite beautiful, very influenced by the Art Nouveau motifs of the times, recalling Jugendstil illustrations, like this one, in particular.
There is no solid indication available anywhere about McCay’s original intentions for the feature. Was there to be a plot, or did he mean for it to be a romantic, picturesque montage of frolicking centaurs? (Nothing wrong with the latter.) At least we have this little bit to enjoy.
“The Sinister Game of Paperface” by Richard A. Kirk
Artist and author Richard A. Kirk (who we’ve mentionedtwice before on the blog) has just put a bunch of very reasonably priced prints of his recent work into his Etsy store. If you’re shopping for darkly whimsical holiday gifts for your more fae or macabre friends (or just for yourself!) you’ll definitely want to take a look at these intricate, elegant pieces.
Kirk’s phenomenal illustrated novella, The Lost Machine, is also worth checking out– a bleakly beautiful weird fiction story that features ghosts, witches, crows, and enchanted automata. Kirk’s prose is as delicate, finessed and strange as his drawings. Highly recommended.
“The Unaccountable Absence of the Wastrel” by Richard A. Kirk