States of Independence
Dazed's ultimate guide to US creativity

The perverse abstractions of digi-sculpture

NY Dane Asger Carlsen warps flesh and bone with a digital ruthlessness Capricious can't resist

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As part of our new summer US project States of Independence we've invited our favourite 30 American curators, magazines, creatives and institutions to takeover Dazed for a day. This week, State of Sex takes an all-encompassing look at sexuality, gender and all the flavours of the American rainbow.

“Ca·pri·cious – Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behaviour.” Over the past ten years multi-disciplinary art platform Capricious has crept up on us, carving out an undeniable monopoly on erotic, queer and feminist discourse through art. It only seemed right then, to get them to round-off State of Sex. Today they'll be giving us an exclusive insight into their favourite artists raising the bar right now. Check back here throughout the day for their Dazed guest edit

Danish-born Asger Carlsen is an artist for the DIY art gen – with no technical formal training he started out as a teenager simply shooting police events and crime scenes for local papers back in Amsterdam. Gradually he honed his style, saw the photoshop-shaped light and discovered a talent for freakishly captivating digital manipulation. Following two photobooks, Hester and Wrong and now dividing his time between a large-scale project with fellow photographer Roger Ballen and a 3D printed sculpture series, we caught up with him to talk ties with Capricious and sexuality as an artistic material.

What drew you over to the US originally? What's the best part about living in New York as an artist for you personally? 

Asger Carlsen: I came here because I wanted to find myself. The best part for me is the endless rows of galleries on offer.

When did you first become interested in photography as a platform to dissect and open up discussion on the body and sexuality?  

Asger Carlsen: I started out very young as a news photographer. The work I do today comes from a desire to pretend that I'm unrestricted and removed from my original vocation as a photographer. I wanted to do something that felt timeless and related. So the human body was my first choice. When that's said I did really want to comment on sexuality, I simply saw it more as a material that I wanted to work with.  

Why Capricious? What was it about their ethos and the type of art they support that attracted you?  

Asger Carlsen: They show a lot of my friends and people I relate to in the photography community. They also have a new amazing space in Chinatown. I also really respect their magazine. It's very much centred around showcasing new photography – the unknown as known.

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Tell us a bit about your Hester series – where did that idea come from and then how did you go about creating those images?

Asger Carlsen: It came form being fascinated by painting and sculptural work. So it's a legit attempt to see photography as a material that can be formed and shaped as one pleases. I guess it'd be right to say that the images come more as glimpses or impulses of images. The pieces are created from about 20 models including images of myself. A photo session would be no more the 20 minutes and that could accumulate into years of work. Through that process I found that if I needed some extra images of muscles or skin I could just take pictures of myself. So I would work on the computer and then photograph myself right behind the work station. I ended up seeing it more as a collecting process for creating my ideas as opposed to capturing the right moment. It also felt like a very immediate creative process. When that's said I spend days, nights and years in front of the computer. Ultimately I would call it a sculptural project done with a photo based material.  

What fascinates you so much about capturing sexually charged mutations?

Asger Carlsen: For me it seems like one of the most related subjects to work with. But I'm not a sex-obsessed artist in that sense. 

Do your digitally manipulated mutations serve as a statement about a wider issue on how we view the body?

Asger Carlsen: No. I believe god has given us a body for better or worse.   

If you could collaborate with any US artist right now who would that be and why?

Asger Carlsen: I am at the moment. With a gentleman called Roger Ballen. The collaboration is basically an exchange of images between us as Roger lives over in South Africa. I would send him an image to work on and he would send me images as well. So it's a mix between his aesthetics and my photoshop aesthetics. The final images looks like perverse abstractions. We have a book coming out with Morel Books early next year as well as a handful of shows too. 

What do you think the future of the representation of the body is in art?                                    

Asger Carlsen: I believe it's here to stay and I'm happy about that.

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