Lara Alcântara and Guilherme Neumann, the duo behind the fantastical figurine maker Toco-Oco, envision an alternate world populated by curious animalistic creatures. Sculpted from a combination of wood, resin, fabric, clay, and wax, the hybrid characters wear garments and masks imprinted with emblems and child-like doodles and express a vast array of emotions that grapple with the strange universe they find themselves in. “It is a world very similar to ours, full of injustices but full of hope,” the pair says in an interview with WePresent. “Our work has reverence for the mystical, natural, and spiritual, trying to rescue this greater connection.”
Based in Brazil, Alcântara and Neumann root each figure in larger narratives often tied to human existence. One character, for example, lugs an oversized, hollowed-out head filled with kindling on its back, a metaphor for a mind overwhelmed by emotion and worries for the future, while smaller busts function as totems with chest cavities and torsos marked by gaping shapes or mythological symbols. A tension between civility and natural instinct is a prominent feature and references “the wild, raw, ruthless, predatory, insatiable, powerful side which is repressed—or worse, is disguised—by the false idea of consciousness,” they say.