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Working soldiers, radioactive ostriches and disposable babies - the weirder world of Aram Tanis

Like the rest of the internet population, artist Aram Tanis A photoblog. A stream of bizarre images found on the internet. With one big difference. Binding Image is rare awesome. Because: gruesome, hilarious, tragic and particularly weird.

"Just look at what toddlers," says Aram Tanis (Seoul, 1979). He clicks on the blog post Politicians. "Behold the people who make our laws. Isn't that wonderful monkey behaviour?"

Tanis: "Like everyone else, I see the most bizarre images passing by every day through social media, newspapers, television and on the streets. Images that somehow grab you. Sometimes they are truly gruesome (like Dumped Babies = nauseating and NSFW, you have been warned!), but I have to do something with them. Binding Image offers me a place to store and organise them."

Hikikomori - (collage) - Aram Tanis / Binding Image

Tanis studied at the Rietveld Academy, the Kaywon School of Art and Design and De Ateliers, and has exhibited at galleries in Istanbul, Seoul and Sydney. A few months ago, he started Binding Image. Initially an addition and extension of the group exhibition of the same name, the photo blog soon began to take on a life of its own.

The idea came about when Tanis began to be puzzled by the mall selfie phenomenon. "I came across countless self-portraits at funerals, to even Obama, who couldn't resist pulling out his phone for a snapshot at Mandela's ceremony. That makes no sense at all, does it? I find it too moronic for words. Incidentally, you hear little about the thugs that Mandela himself smilingly took pictures with. Look how he was cuddling with Gaddafi. And not just once, but much more often!"

For each theme, Tanis selects about 35 photos - gathered via Google Images or other search engines - and places them in a sleek design. Tanis: "One unpleasant, intriguing or witty photo can still be ignored, but I look for the repetition of the image, so that it really gets to you. Looking away is much less easy. Thereby, small variations create a certain rhythm in that stream of images. I put in hard hours to keep Binding Image current and alive. Only then do you see that visitors take it seriously, otherwise it just remains such a non-committal thing."

Inspecting food - (collage) - Aram Tanis / Binding Image

"I am fascinated by the deep, dark caverns of the human condition. And I show those. A series like Disposible Babies is terrible - I was adopted myself, so when I see those images I often think: it could have ended the same way with me. But you know it happens, so you have to watch it.

"Sure. I also have my limits. Like with that series on the trial of Oscar Pistoriuis, the Blade Runner, who is currently on trial for the (alleged) murder of his girlfriend. I made a series of his strange facial expressions during the hearing."

Oscar Pistorius - (collage) - Aram Tanis / Binding Image

"However, footage is also circulating of Pistorius showing, on his stump, to investigators how he found his girlfriend's body at their home. That clip was clandestinely sold by its makers - which is, of course, a completely rancid way of doing things. So I didn't want to give any attention to that."

Another example is Soldiers need fun too. Also on the edge. Tanis: "In doing so, I interspersed the familiar images of the abuses at Abu Ghraib with twerking soldiers of the Israeli army - pictures of armed ladies in tight bikinis, which they themselves posted on Facebook. I am not trying to equate it, but these are two examples of completely bizarre behaviour in a war situation. Nor do I want to take sides or judge. That is too tempting. I just show it."

Soldiers need fun too - (collage) - Aram Tanis / Binding Image

As in his own hushed documentary photography Tanis does not stage his images, nor does he engage in photoshopping. Tanis: "In Fukushima, an ostrich is now walking around, escaped from the zoo. A radioactive ostrich in a totally deserted city. You can't make up reality. It's too strange for that."

Fuskushima - (collage) - Aram Tanis / Binding Image

Aram Tanis' most recent work is the beautiful series Fireflies Ain't Here Anymore.

Daniel Bertina

/// Freelance cultural journalist, critic, writer and dramatist. Omnivore with a love of art, culture & media in all unfathomable gradations between obscure underground and wildly commercial mainstream. Also works for Het Parool and VPRO. And trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.View Author posts

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