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Life-Sized Graphite Skeleton Draws Itself

Agelio Batle will grind these bones to make his art.

by Beckett Mufson
Oct 11 2016, 12:35pm

Images courtesy the artist

Spooky season has started, and even art supplies are haunted in artist Agelio Batle's new exhibition. His latest work is a timely sculpture called Ash Dancer, a scale model of a skeleton, made from graphite. Set on a special high-frequency vibrating table, the pencil-like material of the skeleton "draws" itself onto Vellum paper, creating abstract drawings of the human figure Batle calls Ash Dances. As the drawing develops, the paper wears away at the bones until they disappear. The sculpture and resulting "figure drawings" will be part of a show called murmur | tremble at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco.

Batle's fascination with human remains isn't rooted in the occult or Halloween festiveness, but his BA in biology at UC Santa Barbara, and he honed his inventive approach to materials at CalArts. He describes graphite as a "potent" material, due both to its use in NASA developed heat-shields, nano-structures, and cell-phone batteries, and its origin in millennia-old organic matter. Ash Dancer is a surreal take on the humble pencil, well-established as a symbol of modern life's complexity in the Leonard E. Read essay I, Pencil. Ash Dancer reminds us that everything dies, everything gets used up, and there are likely good and bad causes and effects for everything: when we die, maybe we'll wind up in a pencil in a few million years.

murmur | tremble will be on display at Jack Fischer Gallery from November 5 through December 29, 2016. See more of Agelio Batle's work on his website.

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