The Dark Side of Fairy Tales

What is it about fairy tales that make them so damn appealing? There is the obvious psychological jurgun of using them as a way to escape your own reality but what about when fairy tales become dark and gruesome and far more unsettling than reality itself already is? Some of my favorite photographers of all time are fantasy driven creators who bring a hauntingly intoxicating and enchanting twist to the all too over-played Disney fairy tale. When Tim Walker and Kristen McMenamy collaborate there is something completely untapped and poetically raw about their work. Their mermaid on land series had me searching for breath as each image tugged at my heart strings and strung a melancholic chord. 

Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare

Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare

Laura Makabresku

Laura Makabresku

The same thing goes for Polish based photographer Laura Makabresku.

Some of you may already be aware of this atmospheric artist who creates solemnly striking fairy tales with the click of her camera. Often accompanying her photos with actual fairy tales that she writes there is always death or loss in some way or another involved in them. I have never been a suicidal person nor do I support anything like that in any way shape or form I can't help but get lost in Makabresku's imagery. Each frame is like a Romantic painting pulling references from mystic symbols, surreal aesthetics, eroticism and death. 


My photographs are like screenshots from beautiful but cruel fairy tales. Their narrations are not straight. Images that appear are more like feelings that come during a lecture of an old folk-based story – full of witchcrafts and retributions. The structure of my works is similar to the structure of a dream where natural tendencies of collecting and organizing impulses and motivations coincide with irrational clashes of objects and feelings. Isolation and wounds are closed into patterns, uneasy and artificial orders – visual spells created in order to divide beastillness from humanity and dreams from horror."

- Laura Makabresku

"Laura Makabresku condenses the fairy tale into a frame. One stage on which everything plays out. There is a heroine existing between the worlds. Beautiful and dark. Her sexuality fluctuates between girlish erotic fantasy and the extreme instincts of nature. In a childish way she is fascinated by death. Her land is inhabited by animals, monsters, people in animal masks, objects—all of them of equal status. The world’s orders tangle together. Death in this land is liberating, a kind of good dream into which we tumble, searching for eternity, and which exists within us as constellations painted on the heroine’s body. The motifs and scenes are repeated. Themes are repeated obsessively. It all exists outside of time, everywhere and nowhere, never and always, in the seventy-seventh land. And eternity is just as cruel as death."

From curatorial text by Magdalena Kownacka "The moon is for adults only“

All photos are the property of Laura Makabresku 

SCOPE New York {#tbt}

For my first blog installation of #tbt (Throwback Thursday for the un-tech/acronym savvy out there like my dad who didn't know what "idk" was; oh the irony....) I'm going back two weeks ago to the SCOPE New York show because I have only now had time to sit down and organize this gigantic visually captivating post and write these short but sweet lines of really utter nothingness because what can you say about an art show that isn't apparent in the art itself? Well a few things because I'm obviously still writing but I will be brief: SCOPE New York is not SCOPE Miami Beach. The crowd is different, the weather is clearly different and most importantly the art is different. To me SCOPE New York was an exquisite mixture of contemporary art in such a wide variety of mediums that it truly makes you appreciate how far art has expanded its boundaries in the past century. I couldn't tell you my favorite piece because every time I turned the corner I saw something that I hadn't seen the day before that I became completely infatuated with, thus this image heavy post. That said let me quit with the chit chat get to the art already.

Set-up day
Left: Peter Demetz for WHITE ROOM/Liquid Art System  | Right: 11.12 Gallery 
Fabien Castanier Gallery
Left: Krause Gallery | Right: Fabien Castanier Gallery
Elizabeth Clement Fine Arts
Alexander Krivoshoiw, L-Fusion

Even the people attending and working for SCOPE embraced the fair by becoming vessels for displaying artistic jewelry, accessories and turning themselves into walking art pieces. 

Kerry Miller courtesy of Lawrence Cantor Fine Art 
Digital and interactive art piece by Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic courtesy of See | Me 
L'Inlassable Galerie 
Art Mur
Left: Banksy courtesy of Art Now NY | Right: Speedy Graphito courtesy of Fabien Castanier Gallery

The final image below is a perfect metaphor for how I felt after the end of SCOPE New York. Exhausted but happy with a smile on my face not only because I was greeting people as they came in but also because, well, I was genuinely happy to be surrounded by amazing art and meeting a myriad of intriguing art enthusiasts like myself. However my vision was quite blurred by closing day and I did lose my voice completely for 4 days but you do what you gotta do and when it comes to art I'm pretty much willing to do anything. If you weren't able to make it out to SCOPE New York we missed you dearly and I hope that this post was a small insight on what happened in those 5 days and don't forget that you can visit us in Basel, Switzerland June 17-22 or Miami Beach in December

VIMM Gallery 

All pictures courtesy of myself or SCOPE Art Show

Performing the Self

Performing the self - it sounds like a paradox but let me make my case first. A few weeks back I went to Bosi Contemporary to see the performance artist Marta Jovanovic discuss a book based on her art written by Kathy Battista that is now out for purchase entitled none other than Performing the Self. As I walked throughout the accompanied exhibit that included photography, video, installation and the written word all based on and staring Marta I felt an eerie connection to my own work. After listening to Marta discuss the details that have lead to where she is today it was impossible for me to not see the similar ties between her and I. 

When she was younger she was a ballet dancer just as I was and she learned to express herself through movement and appearance. The body became a medium and tool for her to express a message. After ballet turned out to not be her choice of career she was still very connected to the body as a vessel of expression; art became a form of therapy for her as a way of understanding herself more - self awareness. I have always said that much like psychology majors who often go into the field to try and diagnose themselves the same goes for artists. Like Marta I've always considered my work to be a form of therapy for me especially considering that it is inherently about me and my experiences. Whether it's going out and taking self portraits or getting dressed that morning or writing they are all a way to express what is essentially performing the self. 

So this idea of performing the self suddenly becomes very confusing but at the same time truthful i.e. the paradox. The other day I was discussing my self portrait series with a friend and mentioned that I was tired of seeing pretty pictures of myself and wanted to see the ugliness that I feel and thus the creation of my No More Pretty Pictures set. In response they asked if I am just putting on performances since I am self aware of this decision to express specific aspects of my personality. I couldn't disagree because I am making fully aware decisions to express this and not that. To show this side of something and not the other side. Working as a model and being a photographer self awareness is a vital quality to have so now the question comes to this: is it truly possible for the self - the way that you live your life every day - to be a performance? And if it is then is there a time when the performance begins and ends? If you document the self, write about the self and analyze the self then does the self become a qualified piece of performance art or is it just an overwhelmingly warped form of narcissism?  And also when does a performance turn from a conscious falsified or fantasized show into reality? Can it really be true that life is a performance and world is our stage and in that case isn't everyone a performance artist or must you be self aware for this to be true?

These are fine lines that can fluctuate depending on who is looking at the project and the answer is that both ways of looking at it are right. A urinal can be a urinal or it can be a sculpture if put in the right context as Duchamp proved over 100 years ago. The self can be a piece of art and the self can create a piece of art, it just depends on which one you want to be and it can be both as well as Cindy Sherman proved. This topic always takes me back to the philosophy of the Art Nouveau movement that everything in your life including yourself can be a work of art. It also reminds me of Andy Warhol's famous statement "Art is whatever you want it to be" yet not everything is art. Oh the enigma of the fine art world, what a troubled career path I have chosen..... 
What are your thoughts on the subject of performing the self?