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Angelo Musco’s Magnificent Bodyscapes

thousands of human bodies

Angelo Musco came into this world precariously. After spending two whole months longer in the womb than a full term pregnancy, he was born weighing an enormous 14.3 pounds. Delivered at home in Naples, Italy, his size proved to be a complicated birth and was life threatening to both child and mother. Not looking well, he was rushed to a hospital, where his condition was stabilized. Meanwhile his mother thought she had lost Angelo, which proved to be traumatic. They both survived but not without more trials to come because of the delicate delivery. It will also affect and inspire him profoundly during his adult years.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look on Musco’s creations:

human bodies

Musco’s fascination with the power of aggregation fuels some of his most spectacular photography. He assembles models and precisely directs them to imitate aggregation found in forms such as sperm cells during egg fertilization, a beehive, an ant colony or a school of fish. He creates incredibly large photographs that have hundreds to thousands of participants. It is a belabored process of photographing fully nude models in sections, which he will later isolate in Photoshop. Photo after photo is added like pieces in a puzzle to complete the giant mural-like works. Some of the creations consume up to two years before completion.

thousands of human bodies in a cylindrical foundation

photos of thousands of bodies

They are huge, sometimes as wide as 40 feet, and as tall as 12 feet. These works allude to his harrowing childbirth, an event that was certainly full of drama and anxiety. There is a parallelism in the protracted, intricate process his works require, and his eventful birth in 1973. The result is beautiful, awe-inspiring photographs that overwhelm you. His central theme of the power of aggregation is so profoundly expressed in the thousands of naked bodies that look more like souls connected in a vast universe of being.

web of countless people

“Many of my pieces are the consequence of my experience with birth,” Musco said in a TIME magazine interview. “This collective work holds all the energy — the happiness, pain, and intensity — of the people involved.”

xylem by angelo musco

See the complexity of his work over on his website or visit TIME’s post to see a zoomable view of Musco’s Xylem.

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Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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