Actually today you are going to get a twofer, as today’s piece is technically a collaborative work. I was lucky enough to see this and many other of Mothmeister’s pieces at their book launch last Saturday, held in the Crypt Galleries in London. It was an amazing couple of hours wandering around the Crypt seeing this grotesquely beautiful art in such a befitting setting. The exhibit was a multi sensory one, which had adapted choral music playing throughout the bricked corridors, pieces of adapted taxidermy and toy like sculptures alongside a haunting projection of the characters they have created and walls lined with their astonishing artist photography.
Mothmeister is an anonymous couple who create pieces of art which go against the selfie trend which has come about with the onset of technology. We all see daily on the many media platforms someone pulling a duck face or sharing a shot of themselves in some location that they have found exciting, but Mothmeister have rejected this trend; pulling back to a more elusive frame and giving the world something truly spectacular.
They have created many characters for their art, which incorporate fitting characters to background and costume, giving their pieces a reverence which is rarely seen in such clarity.
Obviously because of the anonymous nature of the artists, I actually can’t tell you that much about them, but I do know that none of the pieces are set in studios. They travel to the remotest and what some would consider bleak destinations for holidays, where they scout out desolate scenery to be the perfect backdrop for their work.
Mothmeister is described in the book as “a two headed- shape shifting creature – crawled out of its fragile cocoon, stretched out its delicate antenna and spread its wings. Uninhibited and curious, it set out in to the big world, driven by an insatiable Wunderlust”. Each piece displays the wondrous fairy tales that Mothmeister encountered.
The costumes used are pieced together from different things, ranging from anything that can be found, which I find amazing as when you see the work, each item looks exquisite in its composition.
What I find most intriguing is the use of taxidermy in the work. This can range from very bad examples to very good ones, but each item used is so fitting to what the artists are intending to portray. I do know that Mothmeister are collectors of taxidermy, so pieces are either owned by them, or borrowed lovingly for the photo shoots.
This particular piece that I have selected to show off their work, I found absolutely striking, and was drawn back to it several times when wondering around the Crypt.
You can see a feminine figure, dressed all in black, rosary beads wrapped around the wrist, and the face hidden by a post mortem mask. The figure is holding a taxidermied cat dressed as a Russian Tsarina. Stormy clouds fill the back drop and glimpses of dry grassland interspersed with water can be seen.
The lighting is particularly effective in this piece, with the face uplit, making the mask stand out and the prominence of the costume stand apart from the dark sky.
There are several things that jump out at me in this picture. Firstly the figure looks almost warrioresque or shamanistic, in a defensive pose, protecting the creature in its arms. The post mortem mask adds to a feeling of defensiveness. There is a definite feeling of strength emanating from the character as it looks off to the right, as though watching something in the distance. This feeling is juxtaposed with the Tsarina cat. It looks out directly at the audience, with its matching costume and emblem of royalty on it’s head dress. It says to me that there is a safety in this union and it looks to the viewer in an almost challenging view.
The background to the piece evokes a sense of dread or ominance, as though something is coming.
The other thing that comes out of this picture for me is the cyclical nature of life, and how the artist respects the dead as much as the living. We see the living figure wearing the post mortem mask, and the dead dressed as the living. It is a beautiful image which speaks of remembrance and an in depth, spiritual understanding of the roles of life and death. This almost heradles a decaying of the living (because if I take a very cold view of the world, we as humans are born to decay), yet life can be preserved after death in memories, and much like the Victorian trend of taxidermy, photography and art works.
To find out more about this wonderful picture, I would encourage you to buy the weirdly beautiful book which I have added the link to below.
Now, I did say this was a twofer, and I can’t ignore the amazing artwork of Candice Angelini who created the post mortem mask which is called “Emma”. Angelini started her artistic endeavours in the early 2000’s in materialistic paintings, but moved to sculpted pieces which include hats, dolls and masks. “Emma” has been created out of all natural items including hair and plant matter. There is a great attention to detail which adds a clarity to Mothmeister’s photography in a perfect collaboration.
Mothmeister’s book – Weird and Wonderful Post Mortem Fairy Tales is available here
You can also follow Mothmeister on instagram @Mothmeister
You can find out more about Candice Angelini and see more of her work here
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