The world of art is an amusing one. It is full of contradictions and surprising turns. While the audience is no longer shocked or astonished by a sight of naked body or extreme violence, it turns out that the modern viewer is very disturbed by a huge yellow rubber duck. Sounds wierd, but that’s the reaction to the worldwide tour of Florentijn Hofman’s trademark work.
This Dutch artists focuses on the public art and huge installations embodying animal characters. Giant rabbits, pigeons, dogs, teddy bears, and,of course, the Duck appeared in many locations around the world. Immense installations evoke a stir of emotions, ranging from admiration and excitement to frustration and destroying intents. During Duck’s stay in Belgium, it came under knife-attack and was stubbed 42 times. It has been criticized for demolishing the environment around the work, which goes against the principles of public art, as it suppose to underline and define the surroundings, existing in a harmony with the public space. On the other side, the Rubber Duck is a universal symbol, that is familiar to almost anybody in any culture of the world. Hofman himself states that the Duck is a symbol for peace and tolerance with no boundaries. While the audience seems to embrace this concept, many people felt that the whimsical installation turned into a commercial entertainment event, including the author of the art work.
It is hard to say whether the issue is relevant and who’s fault it is; the idea of a benign character uniting the world with a humorous note and a great deal of flamboyance (literally) is worthy of respect. Negative comments have some validity, but also revel that people are very dependent on the “normality” of their surroundings and become stressed when something unusual intervenes their comfort zone.
While Rubber Duck is a universally recognizable phenomenon, Hofman produce works that are much more local. For instance, his project ‘Moon Rabbit” is situated in Dayuan Town Naval Base in Taiwan and based on the Asian folkloric story about the bunny that lives on the moon. Somewhat dreamy and adorable installation contrasts the military background, starring at the moon and attracting a lot of visitors. Such methods of contradicting the environment are simple, yet effective tool in the identification of urban and public space. Incorporating more local topics into his art, Hofman is able to create something site-specific; at the same time the cartoonish animals are relatable to many, thus making Hofman’s art works speak with a globally recognizable language. Isn’t it a modernist’s dream?
What do any of us really know about Siberia, other than its cold? Not much— and we’re just about to reinforce the idea. Lake Baikal, located in Siberia, is the deepest and cleanest lake on Earth. Clocking in at an astounding 373 miles deep (!!!), the lake can create 6.5 feet of ice on its surface every winter. This means that people, cars and anything weighing less than 16.5 tons can glide across this majestic lake’s surface without even making a crack. Some intrepid visitors even camp on the surface each winter!Indeed, the natural wonder has become quite the attraction— not only because of the novelty of it but also because deep underneath the ice, cracks and bubbles form to create some truly remarkable designs on the surface. Once April hits, all action has to halt, as the ice begins to melt, sometimes making sharp, cracking noises like gunshots through the vast expanse of land. [h/t boredpanda.com]
The naked human body strikes the audience. Always. After all the years of liberation movements, emancipation and censorship attenuation, it never fails to shock and amuse the viewer… particularly the depiction of a female body, which has been a center of controversy for years. While in the past it was banned, nowadays it remains among the delicate topics in art that somehow still manages to perturbate society.The work of Kristina Podobed thrives off this dynamic.
The Ukrainian-based photographer started her journey as a personal struggle with shyness. She took photos of her friends and herself, gradually realizing that there is much more that has to be said. Her images allow imperfections and silliness, she portrays girlhood with the unprejudiced eye of the insider. Being open to the world, to come as you are – this struggle is real, especially in the modern media-influenced society. Kristina Podobed shifted her focus towards more broad, but not less important topics turning her art into a kind of social mirror.
Youthful and intimate pictures of girls deconstruct the conventional vision of women, obligated to look modest, nice, and polished. Pushing the boundaries of the “acceptable” depiction of women, Podobed is not shy about any aspect of human physicality and nature. Her pictures were banned from social medias numerous times, which just proves the relevance of the issue to the world we live in today. This discourse is especially pertinent when taking into account artist’s Eastern Europe origins. In the post-soviet reality women are still under the influence of the past ideology, which tells them to be quite, neat, and to keep it to herself. But nowadays, the youth is changing, shaping the future of the whole country. Kristina Podobed reflects these transformations, presenting the world with the new generation which is trying to be brutally honest and free.
Ms Podobed continues her artistic pursuits, concentrating on the social photography, depicting people and their environment. Coming back to the point of controversy linked to the depiction of female body, we can say that it is closely related to artificial notion in our heads, that had been embedded a long time ago. We are surrounded by the turmoil of distorted images produced by glamor magazines and advertisements; we bear the heritage of the patriarchal social order which has ruled the world for ages. No wonder it is hard to deconstruct such deeply rooted stereotypes, which were supposed to disappear under the equality and feminism, but in reality are still fueled by another value systems. Photographers like Kristina Podobed help reclaiming the women’s body giving fresh and truthful ideas of self-identity to the upcoming generations. This is how the future is done in the world of art.