Celebrating human imperfection

I don’t know that the work “celebrating” is appropriate It seems that the art typified by the dismemberment or subversion of the human form is not a celebration but an accusation.

Included in this parade are the grotesque, the carnivalesque, abjection and “informe” – formless. As my computer is the epitome of order and control it rejects two of these words as indigestible …. This is the central notion of this category of artists. Each has found the semblance of order in society indigestible for their own reasons (psychological trauma, rejection of prevailing ideologies or a desire to reconcile nature and culture to search for the “truth of being human” as opposed to a socially constructed reality) so they serve it back to us as it presents itself to them.

Like Halloween this art subverts order  – conventions, categories, rules and exposes the hidden aspects of ordering mechanisms in our society and in our physical reality – irrationality, corruption, persecution, cruelty, alienation, repression, hubris, decay. It questions mutual exclusivity of binary oppositions by breaching the social and psychological barriers we create between them.

Magdalena Abakanowicz grew up in Poland and lived under Nazi then communist rule. From an aristocratic family on a country estate she was required to move to an impoverished urban environment and hide her identity.

Her art stems from physiological trauma rather than political subversion.  She seeks to engage with the human condition both in terms of physicality and society. She is particularly working through her fear of the mob – The “faceless herd of the collective”.

Her work engenders a sense of fear and empathy. We feel empathy for the headless, faceless, ragged humanity while fearing their anonymity and sheer numbers.


Imperfect 3D printed ceramics by Steffen Hartwig

Using a self-designed ceramic 3D printer, extruder, and software system, Steffen Hartwig’s 3D printed pieces are imbued with intentional imperfections, resulting in ambiguous yet alluring artifacts that carry the trace of ceramic’s handcrafted roots.  While many advances in ceramic 3D printing today are focused on creating stronger, more technically precise objects than what was previously possible to make by hand, Hartwig’s work stands apart.

To create these kind of ceramics, Hartwig began with parametric design, an algorithmic process used in engineering.

“Aesthetically, I am driven by the beauty and new things that emerge from imperfections, errors or randomness”.

The beauty of imperfection in Duchamp’s work

Between 1915 and 1923 Marcel Duchamp created The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even which is also often referred to as The Large Glass. It is a work of art comprised of two large glass panes, one positioned above the other. In notes Duchamp produced on his work, he described it as the depiction of an erotic encounter between a “Bride” in the upper panel and her nine “Bachelors” gathered below in the lower panel. Neither painting nor sculpture, The Large Glass was composed using materials such as lead foil, fuse wire, and dust, combining elements of chance, carefully considered perspective and a delicate craftsmanship in its construction.

Like all things formed in nature, cracks never travel in straight lines; they cannot be controlled by human hand or forced into a particular direction or pattern. Just like our fingerprints, they are unique and beyond duplication. Even when we apply the same conditions and forces to bear upon identical objects, cracks never repeat, revealing their structure to be outside ourselves, existing in a condition of fragility. We can never return cracks to their perfect unbroken state, only hold them in place and secure them, as Duchamp did when he sandwiched his repaired Large Glass between two further glass panels.


Perfection is stupid

In japanese culture, a straight bridge is considered trivial, especially a bridge where people stroll. Bridges like these reported in the photos represent in Japan a huge act of creativity. In fact a japanese rule says: ” perfection is beautiful but stupid, we have to know it and then destroy it”.

“El impacto de un libro”

Even the seemingly smallest thing can make a massive impact and one artist is showing us how with an art installation that’s going viral on social media.

Mexican artist Jorge Mendez Blake is the creator of an art installation that is simple in theory, but is speaking volumes to thousands of people all over the world. The installation features a seemingly normal brick wall, until you look a little closer and notice a hill in the middle. The reason? A sole Spanish edition of El Castillo by Franz Kafka is at the base of the wall.

Early last month, Spanish Facebook page El Club de los Libros Perdidos (The Club Of The Lost Books) shared a picture of the installation, and later that month, another Facebook user shared one as well. Ever since, the art installation has been going viral. (Although the work is being called “The impact of a book,” this isn’t the official name.)

According to the Spanish publication La Capital, the installation was initially created in 2007 and has been featured in various museums around the world. Each time, the wall is built without glue or adhesives, but the book is always the same. The height is also always the same — 1.8 meters — but depending on the museum, it varies in length, with the longest installation being 23 meters long and 5,000 bricks used.

“I started experimenting with books and supplies, so the idea of the work came naturally,” Blake told La Capital. “I have always interested me the difference of scale. How a little thing can transform something big.”

The above Facebook post has been shared almost 75,000 times and has garnered over 50,000 likes, with various people commenting calling it “magnificent” and “excellent.” Just one question: why this specific Kafka novel? “[T]he character of history is against a system anonymously and tiny and does not know [he] is fighting an entire structure. The book does the same work,” Blake explained to La Capital.


Francesco Barocco’s untitled

Elegant and delicate “Untitled” face made of clay and graphite (2015) by Francesco Barocco another Italian artist from Turin, is an artwork that combines an idea of a 3-dimentional object with the perception of a classic 2-dimentional drawing. Inspired by the history of Italian art, Barocco’s sculpture reinterprets key archetypal elements taken from ancient iconographies.


Stalking Cat

Descended from American Indians, Dennis Avner liked to go by his Indian name ‘Stalking Cat.’

He said felt inspired after a discussion with a Native chief who inspired him to ‘follow the ways of the tiger.’

“I am Huron and following a very old tradition have transformed myself into a tiger,” he said on his website.

Avner, who worked as a computer programmer, often appeared at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! events around the world and numerous TV shows.

Shannon Larratt, who knew Stalking Cat, wrote in a blog post that Avner had tried to adopt the spiritual essence of the animal world.

He said tried to transform “himself not just into a tiger, but a female tiger at that, blurring and exploring the gender line as much as the species line.

“A wonderful and complex person, he was at times as troubled as he was remarkable, and he recently took his own life at the age of 54.”


Man Ray’s Violon d’Ingres

Inspired by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s La Grande Baigneuse, Ray used Kiki de Montparnasse wearing a turban as a model for this piece. He transformed the female body into a musical instrument by painting sound-holes on her back, playing with the idea of objectification of an animate body. Throughout his career Man Ray was fascinated with juxtaposing an object with a female body. Ingres’s works were admired by many surrealist artists, including Ray, for his representation of distorted female figures. Ingres’s well-known passion for the violin created the colloquialism in French, ‘violon d’Ingres’, meaning a hobby. Many describe Le Violon d’Ingres as a visual pun, depicting his muse, Kiki, as Ray’s ‘violon d’Ingres.’ This image is one of many of Man Ray’s photographs that have gone on to have a rich afterlife in popular culture. F-holes have become a popular tattoo design amongst musicians, and fashion designers like Viktor and Rolf referenced the image to create their spring 2008 collection.


Hans Bellmer’s Dolls

In December 1934, there appeared in the Surrealist journal Minotaure a two-page spread introducing French readers to the erotic imagination of the German artist Hans Bellmer. Eighteen photographs Bellmer had taken of a life-size, female mannequin are grouped symmetrically around the title “Doll: Variations on the Montage of an Articulated Minor.”

The images show Bellmer’s assemblage, made of wood, flax fiber, plaster, and glue, under construction in his studio or arrayed on a bare mattress or lacy cloth. Seductive props sometimes accompany the doll—a black veil, eyelet undergarments, an artificial rose. Naked or, in one case, wearing only a cotton undershirt, the armless doll is variously presented as a skeletal automaton, a coy adolescent, or an abject pile of discombobulated parts. In one unusual image, the artist himself poses next to his standing sculpture, his human presence rendered ghostly through double exposure. Here Bellmer’s own body seems to dematerialize as his mechanical girl, wigged, with glass eyes, wool beret, sagging hose, and a single shoe, takes on a disturbing reality.




Orlan is the first artist using surgery and plastic surgery to divert it from its habits of embellishment and rejuvenating.

Carnal Art is not against cosmetic surgery but, rather against the conventions carried by it and their subsequent inscription, within female flesh in particular, but also male. Carnal Art is feminist, that is necessary. It is interested not only in cosmetic surgery, but also advanced techniques in medicine and biology that question the status of the body and the ethical questions posed by them.

The operating room, entirely redesigned, becomes Orlan’s artist studio from which comes the works of art (blood-drawings, reliquaries containing Orlan’s flesh, shroud, photos, videos, films, etc.). The operating room is Orlan’satelier. And what a surreal theatre it is. Each of her “performances” is carefully choreographed. Famous designers, such as Paco Rabanne and Issey Miyake, have designed costumes for Orlan to wear during the surgeries. Poetry is read and music is played while she lies on the operating table fully conscious of the events taking place (only local anesthetic is used). Each surgery has been captured on video (and fed to live international audiences via satellite link-ups!), and exhibited in a number of galleries in Europe and the U.S., as well as at the Sydney Bicentenial (December 1993) in Australia

She calls it Carnal Art. Unlike ‘Body Art’, Carnal Art does not desire pain as a means of redemption, or to attain purification. Carnal Art does not wish to acheive a final ‘plastic’ result, but rather seeks to modify the body, and engage in public debate. Says Orlan: “‘My work is not a stand against cosmetic surgery, but against the standards of beauty, against the dictates of a dominant ideology that impresses itself more and more on feminine . . . flesh'” (O’Bryan). It’s also a stand against nature. Through her art, Orlan seeks to link the interior self with the exterior self. She takes physiognomy to its extreme.

This surgical montage recalls the practices of the ancient Greek artist, Zeuxis, and Leonardo da Vinci, in which the artists extrapolated the most ideal features of several different models and morphed them into one. But Orlan has taken these methods to a different level. Her operations are not cosmetic; she has had no facelifts or liposuction. Far from an ideal identity, the result seems to be none at all. Her performances are transmitted live via satellite in many museums while Orlan is answering questions from the public during the surgery.

The artist puts into question the actual state of the body and the possible genetic manipulations. Her body has become the product of a public debate both online and off. During the seventh surgery in New York, Orlan asked the surgeon to put on her temples implants which are normally used to make the cheekbones more prominent, and so, Orlan is now wearing two bumps on the temples.

“I can observe my own body cut open, without suffering!… I see myself all the way down to my entrails; a new mirror stage. “I can see to the heart of my lover; his splendid design has nothing to do with sickly sentimentalities”- Darling, I love your spleen; I love your liver; I adore your pancreas, and the line of your femur excites me.” (Orlan from Carnal Art Manifesto)