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Fox and Raven: The Photography of Laura Makabresku

Laura Makabresku’s photography reminds me of stills from some lovely film, the type of utterly modern movie that’s in love with the past and seeks, with minimalism and airy grace, to elucidate a series of enigmatic, symbolic scenes in an atmosphere of restrained horror, an exquisite nightmare slow to unfold and penetratingly beautiful. The milky, delicate, startlingly clear palette feels both nostalgic and almost clinical, combining a severe elegance with a soft, ethereal fairytale quality. The imagery is enchanting and sinister, quietly eerie and lambent. It is like a tale of supernatural horror, of witchcraft, of woods, of murder, of treachery, of spellbound sleep, of ritual sacrifice – all watched and attended by the harbingers, animals of ill omen, foxes and crows and goats.

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Lena Herzog’s Lost Souls

Lost Souls is a beautiful collection of black-and-white images by photographer Lena Herzog (the wife of Werner Herzog). Radiant, velvety, and both crisp and dreamlike, these photographs depict specimens in the cabinets of wonder and curiosities and early medical museums that were established beginning in the early 18th century. The subjects are mostly infants with genetic defects and abnormalities that prevented them from surviving, either stillbirths or ill-starred newborns. Declared by the Church to be “lost souls” because of their uncertain status as to heaven, hell, or limbo, having existed as both scientific specimens and as objects of mere curiosity and shock value over the ages, Herzog captures them with a sense of wonder and tenderness, focusing on them a kind gaze which translates them into a transcendent and mysterious realm of intense light and shadow.

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Intermediatheque

Intermediatheque is a gorgeous exhibition space at the JP Tower in Tokyo which feels like a cross between a natural history museum and a yesteryear’s cabinet of curiosities. Assembled by the University of Tokyo, the collection is filled with marvelous displays of hundreds of animal skulls, bones, and skeletons, specimens, taxidermy, and models, and includes such items as an Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, temple fragments that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, 19th-century machinery, typewriters and microscopes, beautiful rocks and minerals, preserved two-headed turtles, and a whale’s jawbone. It is comprised of both vintage and newer acquisitions. For a lover of curiosities like me, it’s a wonder. Besides the interesting specimens, all the display cases themselves are beautifully done. I saw some very lovely and notable bell jars. The aesthetic arrangement of the exhibitions is striking in its own right. The whole space is a unique hybrid of vintage and modern which feels simultaneously spacious, luxe, elegant, eccentric, and quaint, all contributing to make it one of my most memorable experiences in Tokyo. As a plus, admission is free.

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Kyotaro

Drawing inspiration from manga and children’s picture books as well as psychedelic paintings, Kyoko Aoki, who goes by the artist name Kyotaro, meticulously creates intricate, sinuously flowing illustrations representing unseen or invisible beings. They are wonderfully alive and seem to move with a radiant fluidity. Her work is both delicate and dynamic, full of luminous texture, delightfully rendering “light, deities, beasts, animals, and fairies.”

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Adam Csoka Keller – Echtes Leder

This enigmatic and hauntingly lyrical short film directed by Adam Csoka Keller, entitled Echtes Leder (“Genuine Leather”), explores themes of death, deterioration, and creation, juxtaposing images of human flesh with decaying objects in the midst of deserted and dilapidated settings. It features a startlingly dynamic score by V. R. Alevizos.

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Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a first-person, story-based art game developed by The Chinese Room, who also did my beloved favorites Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Considered a “spiritual successor” to Dear Esther, it takes place in a small town in Shropshire, England in the 1980s. As the unknown protagonist, you follow a mysterious, otherworldly, seemingly sentient orb of light, which guides you through the village and surrounding countryside to piece together what happened to the residents, who have all vanished. At specific points, the orb produces/triggers reenactments of conversations and encounters between villagers which took place there. In addition to these resurrected conversations, you also access telephones and radios throughout the village to hear recordings of dialogue.

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