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For most people, a nasty bruise is something to cover up. But for female players of roller derby, a contact sport where skaters zoom around a track and try to knock each other out of bounds, a bruise —especially a bruised butt — is a badge of honor, a war wound worth bragging about. The bigger and purpler, the better. Skaters call these bruises “derby kisses” and show them off in photos they post all over social media.
The Helsinki- and London-based painter and derby skater Riikka Hyvönen was fascinated by the braggadocio of the bruised. For her painting series Derby Kisses, currently on view at Helsinki’s Gallery Saariaho Järvenpää, Hyvönen created massive, hyperrealistic, bas relief renderings of these “love bites” on leather canvasses. In a society that fetishizes unblemished skin and flawless butts, the series is a snapshot of a subculture that inverts beauty standards and embraces female toughness. The paintings read like parodies of the ubiquitous and unfortunately dubbed “Belfie,” or butt selfie.
“This project began from a realization: I wanted to capture the momentary marks, the bruises, that are seen in a completely different light in the mainstream culture than inside the subculture of derby players,” Hyvönen writes in a statement. She calls the series an “investigation into the psychology of bruises.”
Hyvönen’s first painting was inspired by a Facebook post. “‘I have a really beautiful bruise on my bum. Do you want to see a pic?’ a friend once posted on my FB wall,” Hyvönen writes. “‘It has 12 colors and is the size of my head.’ I said yes, I definitely want to have a look. She sent it to my inbox. It turned out to be at least as impressive as she had threatened. In the end, this comment of hers also became the name of the work.” Now, derby girls from around the world send the artist photos of their bruised butts, posing in thongs or glittery spandex short shorts, and she turns some of them into art.
For each of her gigantic, sculptural works, she recreates a derby kiss from a photograph by “bruising” her canvas. “I break the surface of the leather, then paint it, then break it and paint it again — and repeat the process dozens of times in order to create a picture,” Hyvönen explains. To replicate the mottled texture and color of battered skin, she builds up the leather with wood, MDF, glitter, and various tools from paintbrushes to jigsaw pieces. Ranging in hue from light green and speckled magenta to midnight blue, some of these bruises resemble star clusters or storm clouds, painted against gauzy, rainbow sherbet backgrounds.
They also have some not-so-subtle erotic undertones — if you didn’t know the roller derby context, you might think these were paintings of BDSM enthusiasts. But the objectification is intentional: “I objectify the girls completely, but in the same way they objectify themselves,” Hyvönen writes. “With the kitsch, tacky, thoroughly questionable elegance, my aim is to capture the unapologetic representation of beauty that roller derby is all about.”
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
In 1850, when Dr. Robert W. Gibbes commissioned J. T. Zealy to make daguerreotypes of persons held in slavery in and around Columbia, South Carolina, for Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz to use in support of his theory that African people were a separate species, daguerreotypes were at the height of fashion.
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.