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Aldo Shiroma in Flight: "We have to believe in the impossible" - Part 1 of 2

“Pigs aren’t the only ones that can fly” is the title of sculptor Aldo Shiroma’s work that he presentd in Lima back in December 2010. In the following interview the talented artist speaks of his fascination with flying, of his childhood dreams, and of his affection for animals.

How did you develop the idea of your most recent work?

Before traveling—I was in Spain for two years—I had a conversation with the Forum Gallery about hosting an exhibition of mine. I wanted to have an exhibition with sculpture in movement, and since I was already there to talk about the idea, it began to grow and take shape. I contacted Claudia Polar upon my return—she is the owner of the gallery—and I said to her, “Should we do it?” And she answered, “Yes, perfect.” The theme [of the exhibition reflects] kinetic sculpture joined together with my fascination with flying. I wanted to suspend the characters in the air and recreate this movement—flying—which references both my childhood dreams and the ability to fly through an open window.

Your previous work, “Zoociety,” also had a flying pig.

In that piece, among all the characters involved—the pituca (upper-class snob), the politician, the thief—and one who was the most “positive” of the bunch, the dreamer. He was represented as a flying pig that also had a bull in his belly because he was in danger of becoming extinct. Now the primary character of this piece is the wild boar that becomes the savage version of the flying pig. And he was joining another character—the rabbit—who attempted to fly but by other means. The third character is the lemur, but he is magical, a mixture, a hybrid between a lemur and a dragonfly. He is like the magical ingredient. You have to believe in these kinds of things in order to dream, in order to grow, in order to take off [flying].

When people speak of flying pigs they are referring to the inconceivable, the absurd, but you always relate the idea to the ability to dream, right?

To believe in the impossible. The idea is not to convince you that a pig can fly but rather how to use the metaphor in a way that explains that we have achieved all the great things that we possess because we have had to believe in the impossible. If not, we would not have ships, submarines, or airplanes. It is this ability to dream that I think we need to rescue and maintain. I remember when I was a kid and seeing Maxwell Smart take off his shoe and use it as a telephone.

Paper plane

The teleshoe.

Yes. And we said “impossible, how can you have a telephone without a cable or line.”

What does the title of your new work mean? Who also can fly?

We also can fly. There was a Mafalda cartoon that I really enjoyed. Mafalda was playing on a swingset, having a good time, swinging back and forth, but when when he stopped moving he said, “the fun stops when you put your feet on the ground.” It is important to understand this line from the cartoon, to create an exhibition that will bring people in [and allow them] to have fun and recall their childhood dreams. The dream of flying comes to all of us from way back when. Men have viewed flying with great fascination.

We are jealous of the birds.

I’m jealous of the flying squirrels. Since I was a kid it was a dream of mine; I don’t know if it was because of Superman or other superheroes. When we went to the beach and everyone was playing, I stayed put to watch the seagulls fly, how they didn’t have to flap their wings but rather seemed suspended in the air. Such things fascinated me. It was a healthy jealousy.

Was Superman your favorite superhero as a boy?

It depended. At one time it was Ultra Seven. Dan Moroboshi was Ultra Seven, wasn’t he?


Ultra Seven (laughs). I was a bit confused between Ultra Seven and Ultra Man. It was a combination of Ultra Seven, Perman, Mazinger, I can’t choose just one. I have been a fan of television, of Manga, and of the fantasy world. Furthermore, the normal world was what we were talking about before, and [then] a bear with clothes walking on two feet enters the conversation. It was normal for animals to become completely humanized; they formed part of our society.

As we get older, do we lose our ability to believe that pigs can fly?

Yes and no. I believe that as children we are capable of believing in the impossible without asking why or how. As adults, life makes you more and more a realist, and you prefer to believe…to see and live in the real world. I also believe that there are things that motivate us that we don’t understand; there are things that make us happy, that help us, and we still can’t understand it all. We are able to believe that pigs can fly but we need, because we are adults, to know how they can fly. As we grow up we need to have more control and to better understand things. At times if we don’t try to understand it all but rather believe and trust more…trust is the word. We grow up and trust less, and at the same time we dream less.


Part 2 >>

*This article was published thanks to an agreement between the Japanese-Peruvian Association and the Discover Nikkei Project. It was published originally in the journal Kaikan, volume 52, December 2010, and adapted for Discover Nikkei.

© 2011 Asociación Peruano Japonesa / Fotos: Asociación Peruano Japonesa / Fernando Yeogusuku

Aldo Shiroma artists peru sculptor