Friday, March 19, 2010

Hans Bellmer

"This image by the late German artist Hans Bellmer — famous for his disturbing paintings and sculptures of deformed dolls — captures several of my current fascinations at once. While I of course love the fact that his obsession with the inaccessible sexuality of young girls landed him in deep shit with the Nazis, I'm not really interested in the lurid subtext of his art. What I find more inspiring is the surreal aspect.

I've always been interested in memento mori and other dark and strange imagery, and so the resurgence of Dali and the Surrealists in recent years has been especially exciting; I think I had internalised and dismissed all the lobster telephones and melting clocks as pop culture icons rather than really understanding their context, and I've taken this time as a chance to really get to know the movement in a deeper way. Maybe some of the Surrealist work would be considered kitsch today, but at the time it was a revelation, and once you know that, you start seeing its influence everywhere.

The other thing I like about the Bellmer image is that it reminds me of an article I recently read in the New Yorker about how biology is the new industry — instead of making things using machines, we'll soon use nanotechnology and genetic engineering to solve all of our problems, even to create new life forms from scratch. (I recently wrote about how one of my favorite designers, Joris Laarman, is investigating these themes.) For better or for worse, the implications of that are staggering. It's incredible to stop and realize that you're witnessing the beginning of a major technological revolution. Can you tell I always wanted to be a scientist?"

- Monica Khemsurov, co-founder of online magazine Sight Unseen, contributor to the New York Times and former senior editor of I.D. magazine.

Extracted from: Huh Magazine.

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