ARTIST STATEMENTS

 

 

THE PELVIS
If my work were to focus only on one anatomical attribute, without a doubt, it would be the pelvis. The expression of the bone and its musculature is unique like a fingerprint. The majestic wing-like structure of the pelvic bones are symmetric and broad in its proportion. Distinct for its ala, or wings that flare out on either side of the spine, it is constructed stronger than the wall of the cranium.

Anatomically, the pelvis is the keystone of our corporal structure and the foundation of the body’s center of gravity. The moving relationship between the pelvis and the rib cage determines our balance and mobility in virtually every activity we do. Other factors like posture and a person’s stance often affect whether their pelvis is tucked under, swung back, or positioned perpendicular to the floor, affecting how a person walks through space.

One of the only bones in the human body that is gender specific, the pelvis protects the body’s vital reproductive organs, like the rib cage protects the heart. The female pelvis is designed to carry and deliver offspring; however, it is ironically more fragile than the male pelvis; it is thinner and lighter in weight, and generally less robust.

Varying among the races, the pelvises of women of African and Asian descent tend to have less wing than women of European descent resulting in narrower hips. In addition to genetics, studies prove that the final shape of a woman’s pelvis is also determined by conditioning and environment. Athletic women tend to have narrower pelvises.

Controversially, the pelvis has been the center of great debate. Hitler and other eugenicists argued that Aryan women evolved wider pelvises in order to give birth to babies with larger craniums, implying smarter superior offspring.  Modern science does not support this fallacy.

In evolutionary terms, women who are alive today, regardless of race, survived millions of years of natural selection, evidence that diversity is the key to the success of the species.

The battleground of the pelvis continues to shape our modern consciousness considering how the 1973 landmark United States Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, has divided America into two camps of pro-life and pro-choice. The fascination and struggle to control and define the pelvis reflects our attempts to control and define life.

On the physical, this series will focus on the waist-to-hip ratio of 0.70 or less and attempt to celebrate diversity of the form and takes a ratio that from the outset looks restrictive and explains exactly why it is not. From an ethnographical, medical, political and mystical point of view, Cooper tries to interpret his fascination with the pelvis into a visual language that demonstrates why the pelvis is arguably the most fascinating and controversial bone in the human body.

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THE ALTIS
The Olympics were so intertwined in ancient Greek culture that their calendar was actually based on the passing of a 4-year cycle, known to this day as an Olympiad. All wars were suspended during this period and every traveler's safe passage was guaranteed to and from the Altis, the site of the games. The term 'Altis' comes from the Greek name for the sacred olive grove where the ancient Olympic games geographically took place. The games were open to all free men from the known Greek world; athletes from the Near East to the north of Africa, southern Europe and into Spain were all represented. It was truly a multi-national affair. There were no gold, silver or bronze medals at the ancient games. Either you won, or you lost. Victors received goods of transient value such as fruit or simple wreaths of branches. However, when an athlete won at the games, he was considered almost god-like and revered as an Immortal.

By 776BC, the ancient Greek games were flourishing primarily as religious rituals to honor their gods. This ritual specifically excluded women. Female participation was punishable by death. It would not be until 1900AD, the first time in western history, that the opportunity opened for women to participate during the modern revival of the Olympic games.

My photographic series, The Altis: Portraits of the Immortals, is a project celebrating freedom of expression, civil liberties, and sexual equality, often taken for granted in our contemporary context. By setting The Altis in the ancient times of the Olympic games, my statement is one that opposes religious and sexual discrimination. Casting the project exclusively with women would have been blasphemy in the eyes of the ancients, but for me it's a tactical use of history for the premise of artistic invention. The freedom to create this body of work without persecution exists as evidence of cultural evolution in our living times.

- Martin Cooper

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For more than one thousand years, ancient Greek males celebrated the Olympic games at the altis, a sacred site at the base of Mt. Olympus. The games were a religious rite performed in the nude, and women were banned from participating. Failure to comply was a crime punishable by death. The Altis, Portraits of the Immortals, defies the ancient archetype to exalt women to their rightful place in the world. Presented through the discipline of classic portraiture, The Altis is a portal into an aesthetic and highly stylized world, glorifying women. The portraits showcase the beauty in athleticism and the pageantry of the rituals they were denied. Through the athleteís inner absorption and religious devotion to her sport, she becomes the ultimate practitioner, a metaphor of transcendence into the immortal. The artistís pursuit is the capture of these pivotal moments.

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THE ALMAGEST
In the approximate year 150 AD, an Alexandrian astronomer named Claudius Ptolemaeus (better know as Ptolemy) produced the Almagest.

The Almagest is a book of mathematical astronomy. It collated the astronomical knowledge of the ancient world, and contains a star catalogue of 1,025 stars.  Ptolemy divided these stars into 48 constellations:

12 of the Zodiac

21 north of the Zodiac

15 south of the Zodiac

Modern astronomy list 88 constellations of which Ptolemy's 48 are incorporated.  This body of work is inspired by Ptolemy's Almagest, and focuses on the band of constellations known as the Zodiac.

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BOTANICALS
Martin's homage to beauty is embodied in this ongoing work in progress, Botanicals. While these studies of flora are reminiscent of 19th-century illustrated books, they differ from those studies by taking on a figurative and human-like quality. Moreover, there is a sense of graceful choreography in the composition, and the surfaces are labored until it emits a glow from within. These botanicals arrest and captivate us, and if we follow our instincts, we can take joy in their intimate and euphoric world.

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EMERGENCE
The Emergence Collection is a trilogy: DREAM INTO MOTION, EMERGENCE, and MYTH OF ASCENSION. It is an allegory of the quest for excellence, expressed through a narrative of nudes. Each image depicts a step of the journey, and each cycle is a plateau of self- discovery.

The Emergence Collection fuses the power of the written word to image. Encapsulating the essence of each section in a poem, or tenet further solidifies the concept. The titles of the photographs are a direct reference to its tenet, and to the order in which we as individuals experience life, thereby depicting steps of the journey. Each section, as a whole, embodies a plateau of self-discovery. The beauty of this project is that we all experience these cycles in life. There is a wonderful and moving universality to this concept.

DREAM INTO MOTION, the first cycle, marks the turning point of self-realization. It is the process of awakening the knowledge within: stretching ideas, inducing motion, actively seeking truth about ourselves and the world around us. We discover our discipline, and the courage to manifest our goals and dreams. We take this first step in all our endeavors.

EMERGENCE, the middle cycle, earmarks the path of self-empowerment. The equilibrium inherent to this state of mind is maintained by a devotion to integrity and faith. It is in this fragile balance that we bring life into our art, and produce our best work. This is the life of creativity and the essence of the journey.

The final cycle of this journey is MYTH OF ASCENSION. This is an homage to the powers greater than we. It is an attempt to explain the natural experience into which each creative person enters to find inspiration. The Universal Canopy is this mythical destination we each visit when creativity is in sync with excellence. The only proof of its universal existence is the phenomena of how an idea permeates the world, beyond language barrier and cultural membrane. This phenomenon indicates a universal creative source. The topography of this domain is expressed through characters and emotional states. Martin Cooper uses the pussy willow to personify a field of intangible energy, like stars in the heavens, or the euphoria of creativity. To take it a step further, it is the figurative embodiment of the energy within the Universal Canopy.

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