Collaboration with photographer Tere Garcia

 

Hyper Putrefaction

2020

Digital image, processes of putrefaction

In this photographic series I continue my exploration of the process of putrefaction as an artistic medium. I designed a leotard sublimated with images of cultivated microorganisms from my 2018 studies in human remains recovery. In my performance Operation Psychopomp I constructed a necro-garment made out of 104 Petri dishes that was worn at a nightclub, Hyper Putrefaction traverses this idea through fashion design and highly stylized photography.

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In Giacomo Leopardi's 1824 Dialogue Between Fashion and Death, it describes a conversation between death and fashion as a long time admirer. Fashion claims they too are born out of decay by reshaping the body through various processes of corporeal modification (through piercings, alterations, contortions, etc.) Similarly, the leotard is printed with images of bacteria and fungi involved with the processes of human decomposition. The leotard ultimately asks the question of what defines the state of a human body, the non-human organisms that sustain and devour us? This is also an ecosophical question, as one can't ignore the environmental factors that play a major role to decomposition, or as scientists call, the necro-biome.

The nahuatl priest Xipe Totec, the "flayed god", ritualizes the human body through sacrifice and cannibalism, it removes the skin of the sacrificed and wears it, the corpse becomes a ceremonial resource. The leotard mimics the wear of flesh, but it is not flesh or any perceived body part, instead what is worn are the processes that break up that matter, microorganisms. Hyper Putrefaction is an homage to the non-human entities that disintegrate our body and identity, it is a political homage, a keen for our transition to the dead and the land.

I also wear a collection of family molars and incisors. Although teeth are considered as human bones, they represent an oral fixation on consumption and digestion within the mouth—a bodily opening for various entry of microorganisms. I wear these teeth outside and around of my mouth alongside a collection of gold pendants known as milagros, mimicking facial piercings. Milagros are catholic charms used for healing and religious offerings and many symbolize various body parts such as limbs, lungs, heart and eyes. Within the portrait I stand on human heads depicting cherubs like ones found in Spanish colonial paintings of archangels. Instead of wings, the heads are infested with a fungi species, huitlacoche, which originally thrive on maize and is also eaten in various regions of Mexico.

© Angel Lartigue 2021