The artistic duo composed of Anthony Aziz (Lunenburg, United States, 1961) and Sammy Cucher (Lima, Peru, 1958) converts digital photography into the media and instrument that explores the representation of postmodern man's condition. To do this, they take the skin as a starting point and as their only artistic material, with intent to disable a rule: skin is the surface which individualises and acts as the border between human being and the outside world. In their photographs the body ceases to speak and as a result of technological manipulation it no longer reveals its uniqueness.
Aziz + Cucher take El hombre sin atributos (1930-1943) to extreme consequences, the work by writer Robert Musil. The purpose of the Dystopia (1994-1995) series is to construct a set of human hybrids whose characteristic is precisely the absence of signs of individuality. Individual characteristics are removed by subjecting their bodies to a process of mutilation, castration and denaturalisation. The artists' work also points to the revolution in genetic engineering and biotechnology, which poses a threat to humans as a race. In this series by covering all sensory pores and erasing traces of individuality in each body and face, the artists set up a new type of human, alienated and unable to interact with the environment.
Digital photography allows the creation of these monsters composed only of skin. Furthermore, as illustrated by Pam and Kim (1995) from the Dystopia series, the use of digital photography also eliminates the essence of the portraiture genre: capturing the soul of the sitter and representing their physical individuality.
The exhibition also shows another series. In Faith, Honor and Beauty (1992) prototypical characters are stripped in order to show their insincerity. The lack of a gaze, neutral presence and absence of sexual attributes is presented as something natural. Plasmorphica (1996) are images of objects that appear to be appliances and covered with a thin plastic skin. There are hermetic objects that, just like the censured bodies, refuse to show their identity.
The skin is the surface and material of the idols from the series Chimeras (1998), who move away from their condition as objects and are presented more like "an abstract prosthetic extension of the human body" in the words of artist Daniel Canogar. In Interiors (1999), Aziz + Cucher define perfect geometric architectural spaces, where the wall is skin, as the only device in contact with the environment.
All these images offer a journey into the space of the body through corridors, chambers and staircases. It is disturbing that even by giving three-dimensionality to the body, ultimately there is no possible way of penetrating it.
Museo Reina Sofía Publications
28 February – 1 July 2024
Olga de Soto
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