The concept seems simple: rip open a teddy bear, that cuddly stuffed animal burned into our collective understanding of childhood. Turn its parts inside out, exposing the stitches and fabric that keep the tiny creatures pieced together. Then repair the damage, producing a Frankenstein version of the precious product.
The result is more complicated. Turned inside out, the bears express a completely different character. Each one seems imbued with its own strange personality, as its button eyes and mutated arms appear to communicate a scream or -- even worse -- giggle.
The curious teddy bears come courtesy of artist Kent Rogowski, a Brooklyn-based photographer who specializes in "provocative and whimsical manipulations of objects and images that surround us." He's worked with jigsaw puzzles, self-help books and other mass produced consumer products. Twisting and stretching our perception of these mundane pieces of everyday life, he explores the emotional and visceral importance of these objects in culture.
For his "Bears," Rogowski bases his designs on the specific manufacturing processes of each animal. As he describes on his website, the fasteners become eyes, the seams become scars and the excess stuffing becomes an abnormality that distinguishes each stuffed being. What was once hidden becomes prominent, in more unsettling ways than one.
"Together these images form a typology of strange yet oddly familiar creatures," Rogowski writes. "They are at once hideous yet cuddly, disturbing yet endearing, absurd yet adorable, while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own."
(All images courtesy of Kent Rogowski)