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An apple and a pear sit on opposite sides of a cinderblock, suspended in midair. The apple, on the underside of the block is curiously static, as if floating—which, in fact, it is. In the photograph, just five blocks away (2015), Alejandro Almanza Pereda makes tenuous the inherent physical properties of an apple to float and a pear to sink underwater. The photographic sets are made in an underwater studio with Almanza precariously arranging objects before photographing them; stacking haphazardly, stuffing heavy things with pool noodles, or relying on the embedded properties of each to defy expected outcomes. The photo works—on view at Ibid Gallery in his exhibition, Outside the Garden—exist as arresting explorations into balance and logic, and the ultimate precarity of each.
In stark opposition to the lightness and whimsy of the photographs, The Suit Makes the Man (RUA) (2017) physicalizes weight rather than defying it. A men’s suit, with its boxy shoulders and tailored suit pockets, is cast in rigid concrete, filling the space that a body might inhabit with cold and unmoving material. Hanging on two rebar hangers, the work’s rigid materials recall modernist architectures—those stark, beautiful, and oppressive forms. Opposite the suit in the gallery sits the exhibition’s opus: a large scale sculpture, Sticks and Stones (California Decline) (2017). Its hodgepodge of Greek columns, concrete monoliths, and palm tree segments are sutured into place with brass and aluminum armatures—its own stabilized construction belies its implied precarity. If the photographs and the Suits are on opposite ends of lightness/malleability and hardness/rigidness, Sticks and Stones, lugged down by gravity, sits tepidly between the two.
As the exhibition’s title evokes, existing outside of the garden is an unstable dance. What we don’t see in Almanza’s photographs is his expectant hand, waiting outside of the frame to corral the inevitable wobble of his stacked waterlogged objects. The apple will eventually float too far out of the frame; perhaps on its way to find Eve.
Alejandro Almanza Pereda: Outside the Garden runs September 9–November 4, 2017 at Ibid Gallery (670 S. Anderson Street, Los Angeles, CA 90023).