Isabelle Albuquerque's potent figures are free in their eroticism, taking control of their sexuality and subverting the ubiquitous male gaze. "I am listening to a lot of New York pump-up songs," says the artist whose new show “Orgy For Ten People In One Body” opens at Jeffrey Deitch New York tomorrow. Born and based in Los Angeles, Albuquerque's practice spans music, explorations of the body, and self-portraiture, and the exhibition marks the first time she will collectively present the entire series of bodily sculptures she has created over the last four years as a collision between forms.
For the show, Albuquerque used molds of her own body to make ten figurative works using bronze, beeswax, and walnut to address aspects of desire and transhumanism. "Each one has a different meaning,” she explains. “I saw them as a way to understand all the classical sculptural materials.” One piece in particular, the artist describes, Orgy For Ten People In One Body: 10, is the only sculpture that has a head, and it is crafted out of wax and walnut. “There's a porosity in wax,” she says. “And it's a living material with a complex social system." As such, the artist—whose mother, Lita, is known for her Light and Space environmental painting and sculpture work—imbues the pieces with as much life as possible to show the interconnectivity of materials. "In 2018 our family house burned down. I come from four generations of female artists, and we lost the work of all the women in my family. Three bronze heads were the only works that survived when we went through the ashes and pulled out whatever we could from the house," says Isabelle. By working with bronze, she began to consider the longevity of metals as an act of resilience: "I became almost fetishistic about the material after the fire. Bronze has an eternal nature."
On view in her new show, Orgy For Ten People In One Body: 9 shows a female figure made of bronze riding a broomstick on her knees, while Orgy For Ten People In One Body: 5 depicts a deer-like figure with hoofs suggestively reclining on their elbow—elements the artist considers representations of the body and form. "I'm super interested in positions and connections to power,” she explains, adding the latter was created while listening to Arvo Pärt's song “The Deer's Cry.” “I'm always thinking about the relationship between subject and object, being viewed and viewing. I do something I call ‘the drawing phase’ in the studio, where I set up a camera and a backdrop to find new positions for my pieces,” continues Albuquerque. “Most of us conceal ourselves in darkness, but they hide in the light." Each work is scrupulous in the attention to detail the artist considers through temporal notions of space. Upon experiencing them, the pieces become portals of plurality and embody a collective experience that provides a space for the viewer to realize fantasies or curiosities within desire.
"Orgy For Ten People In One Body" will be on view from November 12, 2022 through January 28, 2023 at Jeffrey Deitch's 18 Wooster Street location in New York.