SPF: Hibiscus

Special Special invites New York based photographer Benjamin Langford to collaborate on a Special Special Edition Hawaiian shirt as well as a site-specific installation of his tantalizingly beautiful and surreal flower sculptures. In the artist’s own words, these photographic canvas sculptures “draw attention to photograph’s ability to convincingly create the illusion of space, texture, and material qualities.” The effects of trompe l’oeil allow the viewers to compare the qualities of photography to sculpture in terms of their differing dimensionality, fragility, and flexibility.

Special Special Edition No. 24, Hibiscus, is a Hawaiian Shirt collaboration with Benjamin Langford. This limited Edition of 50, with digital prints of hibiscus flowers can be subsequently dyed in a bath of hibiscus flower, allowing traces of the flower to envelop their printed representations.

Langford’s work pertains to contemporary representations of nature and the hyperreal. He uses technology as a tool to bring people closer with nature through increasingly vivid modes of representation, while distorting the human appreciation for nature in an unmediated state. Using large-scale digital prints on canvas to create large-scale illusionistic flowers that hang flaccidly off the wall or droop across the floor, the work brings seductive and hallucinogenic qualities of images to attention by reversing the way photographs are ordinarily perceived: not as windows to be looked through but simulacra that seemingly extends beyond their real dimensions.

Benjamin Langford (b. 1992, Connecticut) received a BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014. He grew up in London, and went to High School in Singapore and Connecticut. His work has been exhibited at Zaha Hadid West 28th, PPOW, MX, and Project:Artspace. He has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar Korea, Bullett Magazine, Wallpaper, Dis Magazine, You-Do-You, and Editorial Magazine.

Hibiscus is part of SPF, our first group show transforming the living room storefront into a swimming pool. SPF is a metaphor of the Special Special logo, a blue oval that is the pool of water to be submerged for creative dialogues. A fluid arrangement of various artist projects evoking the spirit of a poolside retreat, offering New Yorkers a refuge from the sweltering heat. Interspersed throughout the months of May through August, each highlighted project, workshop, and event opened with a Pool Party.”

Participating artists in SPF includes Lu Zhang, Aria McManus, Ben Langford, and an “Overflow” curation by John Belknap.