Toxic Chemicals Make Beautiful, Haunting Art

what breath fresh air algis kemezys photo

"What breath of fresh air" by Algis Kemezys

Photographer, filmmaker, and sculptor Algis Kemezys was inspired to make a series of surreally altered pieces of environmental art by an incident that would have left many people too bereft to have done much at all: a catastrophic fire that burned down his family home and destroyed much of his previous work.The slides Kemezys discovered in the rubble were badly damaged, but the flames had left some of them with a haunting quality -- something he began seeking to intentionally replicate by applying household chemicals to other photographs.

melting the earth algis kemezys photo

"Someone is melting the earth" by Algis Kemezys

"This body of work is made from Kodacrome slides that were burnt after painting them with toxic household ingredients like EasyOff, rubber glue, fingernail polish, Magic Markers, bleach, shoe polish, and more. In some cases the image was burnt off the slide, and then after freezing, the image was burnt back onto the slide," the Canada-based artist writes on Open Salon.

smokestacks algis kemezys photo

Untitled work by Algis Kemezys

With titles such as "What breath of fresh air," "Flowering destruction," "Someone is melting the earth," "Toxic Toronto," "Acid rain," and "Who killed the whales?" the images allude to the fact that the materials that make the photos strangely beautiful can also be damaging to the environment.

"These move me in so many ways," one commenter wrote in response to Kemezys' online gallery. "Wonder how mother Earth feels as we pour these on her body?"

More on environmental art:
What the Heck is Eco-Art? 10 Ways to Appreciate It
'Aesthetic Power Plants' to Make Energy from Art
Man and Nature: Art in the Age of Climate Change
How Can Eco-Art Inspire Change?
An Ice Artist's Poignant Plea to Halt Global Warming
8 Amazing Environmental Artworks (Slideshow)
Top 5 Environmental Artists Shaking Up the Art World
Chicago's Columbia College Hosts Challenging Environmental Art Show

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