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Soft Pioneers by Emil Alzamora

Digitally manipulated sculptures swarm together in the artist's latest solo show

by James Thorne in Culture on 28 March 2013

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For his latest exhibition, Peruvian-born sculptor Emil Alzamora fuses, stretches and bloats the human form in an exhibition on technology and society. With a history of creating metamorphosed, elongated and obese figures, the jump to digital manipulation was a logical step, and one that Alzamora also regards as thrilling: "There's this attempt to wrap my head around the new frontier of the digital imagination," he says. "We're starting to blur the line between our imagination and the real world."

But old habits die hard. The artist—who has worked with everything from bronze to gypsum to steel to ceramics—started as always with handmade, reductive techniques. Having created several pieces as small models, Alzamora scanned, enlarged and skewed the resultant mockups to his heart's delight.

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Taken with the experimental medium, the sculptor tried everything from etched foam core to ABS printing in the creation of the final works. At times the result became a series, but more often than not his labors are done with the aim of producing a one-off piece.

In the center of the space, visitors are introduced to "Swarm," a pack of interconnected children that mill around in a social discourse. Beside them lies "Will You Learn from Me?", a supine female figure that melts into the floor. Isolated by the gallery window, "The Kid in the Corner" is the fur-covered counterpart to the hive of children. Together, they represent a snapshot of contemporary society—the fading parent figure, the highly social children and the isolated loner.

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"Pressure" and "Sustain" are two manipulations of the same hand-built sculpture of an obese and contemplative man. In one, his X-axis is progressively diminished to the point of near-dissolution; in the other, he is blown up to six feet tall and later compressed.

Called "Soft Pioneers," the show can be seen as a celebration of these fuzzy, swarming and overweight explorers. As Alzamora explains, "We're not necessarily rugged pioneers, but we're becoming soft-bodied, mentally durable pioneers."

"Soft Pioneers" will run at Krause Gallery in NYC through 5 May 2013.

Images courtesy of the artist

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