In ‘Are you online?’ anonymous conceptual artist Auguste Wibo takes his signature phallic relief sculptures into the digital world for the first time. Incorporating real models from around the world using a 3D scanning app, the 100 pieces, each ranging in material from metals to glass and even fire, are named after Greco-Roman gods. In Auguste's words, “This collection represents an all-important reminder that art and sex will always be linked, so long as the two remain free of suppression and censorship.”
The eternal juxtaposition of sexuality and censorship
In ‘Are you online?’ anonymous conceptual artist Auguste Wibo takes his signature phallic relief sculptures into the digital world. In keeping with previous work, Auguste continues to explore the concept of sexuality and censorship through this collection, and in particular, focuses on the importance of sexual liberty. “The collection is designed to stroke the subconscious and celebrates (or challenge) the meaning of desire in an era where sexual freedom and identity are increasingly under attack here in the US,” says Auguste. “This collection represents an all-important reminder that art and sex will always be linked, so long as the two remain free of suppression and censorship.”
In his physical works, Auguste creates silicone casts using real models and covered them in a variety of everyday materials. Without the constraints of physical materials, his first digital collection opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities. Many of his collectors and online followers had expressed interest in modeling for previous collections but hadn’t been able to do so because of travel limitations. For this collection, Auguste used a 3D scanning app that allowed community members from around the world to scan and model their phallus, which would later be incorporated into the collection.
Additionally, Auguste was able to play with materials that were either too expensive or physically impossible to use in his previous projects. For example, he wanted to experiment with metals like bronze, silver, and gold, as well as more dramatic elements like glass, water, and even fire. Auguste is color blind, so he often uses poppy, monochromatic designs in his work to make things easier to visualize.
Some of Auguste’s biggest aesthetic inspirations include Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Agostino Bonalumi, and Yuki Matsueda. He is also heavily influenced by current events, both in the United States and abroad. Auguste saw his NFT collection as “a chance to leverage his provocative art as a vital tool and shine a spotlight on the realities of sexual oppression.”
“One doesn’t need to read between the lines with today’s daily dose of horrendous headlines, not to mention rapidly declining civil liberties related to race, religion, gender identity, and reproductive rights,” says Auguste. “The lists and headlines go on, but so does the artmaking.”
Auguste also found inspiration in his community for this collection. After hosting successful shows in Los Angeles and Berlin and working on an upcoming show in Paris, he’s built a wide network of collectors and fans.
He’s included his community in the creation of his pieces, and he’s also included a surprise “golden ticket” to facilitate a future collaboration with a collector. The collector who receives the golden ticket will be able to schedule a modeling session in the physical world for themselves or someone they know. Auguste will then turn this into a signed art piece.
In a wink to classical antiquity’s homoerotic motifs, each piece in this collection is named after Greco-Roman gods. Auguste designed the pieces to “entice the wandering eye, interrogate knee-jerk reactions, and ultimately awaken or arouse” the viewer.
“The viewers experience what fascinates me the most as I try to provoke everyone through a circle of emotions,” says Auguste. “Most start with curiosity and intrigue, as they get closer to the piece or zoom in, doubt and confusion set in, until you see some get amused, aroused, shocked, or even disgusted. Ultimately, I hope the viewer questions the eternal juxtaposition of sexuality and censorship.”
While working on the project, Auguste’s go-to playlist involves plenty of Lana del Rey. However, when he’s working on physical modeling sessions, he enjoys asking the model to play something from their playlist to make an intimate experience more comfortable.
Auguste’s work continues to remain anonymous, although he has incorporated his mother’s maiden name in his pseudonym as a nod to his family. “I want pieces to speak for themselves. I hate that everything is now associated with who is behind it. The pieces are powerful enough and I wouldn’t want to distract the observer with my real name, face, or story,” he says. “Just remember: the less you see, the more you imagine; the less you get, the more you want. Whether you choose to play is up to you.”