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Alex CF’s Mythical and Nightmare Specimens

Alex CF painstakingly creates cryptozoological specimens encased in bell jars and elaborate, gorgeous display cabinets replete with the paraphernalia, notes, and mementos of the scientific ventures that captured these exquisite specimens. He assembles complete miniature scenes around the specimens: there are reliquaries, study cases, vampire slaying kits, portable bio-aetheric animation laboratories, coffers, and sarcophagi. The specimens are drawn from literary works, including Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Dante’s Inferno, H. G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H. P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness and Chthulhu Mythos, as well as folklore and legend. The array of allusions to classical eerie fiction is delightful. He reimagines and renders these cryptic, bizarre, mythical creatures and beings, sirens, faeries, mutants, succubi, devilspawn, atrocities against nature, resulting in specimens that are disturbingly lifelike and alluringly detailed. The displays also come with beautifully drawn illustrations, which are as fascinating as the specimens themselves.

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Dennis Cooper + Gisèle Vienne

These eerie yet alluring adolescent life-size dolls were created for the theater pieces which Dennis Cooper and Gisèle Vienne have collaborated on since 2004. As Cooper says, “We consider the dolls to be actors in our works almost on a par with the human performers, and, although the dolls aren’t credited individually in the works, they each have names and fictional biographies constructed by Gisele. These biographies are used to determine which roles might be suited to their ‘personalities.'”

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Internal Forest: The Paper-Cutting Art of Elsa Mora

Elsa Mora is a boundlessly creative paper-cutting artist. With sharp knives and scissors, she crafts evocative, entangling scenes, vignettes, and storytelling images of incredible detail out of paper, full of fairytale whimsy and personal expression. Her work has a childlike quality, reminiscent of vintage children’s book illustrations, as well as a complexity, intricacy, and attention to detail on a miniature scale; showing an internal wilderness of twisting vines/blood vessels, red flowers, insects, and other symbols of nature’s marriage with the anatomy of the psyche in her work. The pieces convey the alluring yet foreboding air of fairy tales, a sense of personal pain, broken innocence, the mystery and power of nature, and playfulness. They are three-dimensional works of art, violent drops of red against a white background, all rendered in the most lovingly detailed and ingenious way in a fragile and ephemeral medium.

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Flora and Fauna: The Craft of Lorenzo Nanni

Lorenzo Nanni makes incredibly intricate, beautiful (often wearable) art, taking inspiration in an amazing way from organic forms and anatomical structures, reflecting a kind of gorgeous hybridization between animal and plant life, often replete with creaturesque tendrils seeming to infest as well as adorn the host. He creates his own breathtaking “lifeforms” from craft materials. I particularly love his Arteries, Veins series, the way that they depict details from anatomy as a textbook would, but in the startlingly tangible materials of his craft: felt, beads, embroidery. They look so visceral, so intricate, but remind us at the same time of their artificial construction, the biological juxtaposed with the inorganic.

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