Text and images by Alain Zedrick Camiling
In partnership with the Aura Contemporary Art Foundation in Bangkok, the UP Vargas Museum (Jorge B. Vargas Museum) and Filipiniana Research Center in UP Diliman mounts “Displace, Embody” until February 13, 2021 at the 1st and 3rd Floor galleries. The participating artists include Bree Jonson, Eisa Jocson, garbanzos, Patipat Chaiwitesh, Samak Kosem, and Wantanee Siripattananuntakul, curated by art historian and Art Studies professor Dr. Patrick Flores.
The exhibition ushers in publics through Patipat Chaiwitesh’s ‘Surgery Project (2020’) at the museum porch, showing around 29 pieces of actual overripe bananas with modified bodies and appendages from the mundane like nails, pins, hooks, thumbtacks, strings, a spring, among others.
“Display, Embody” deliberately tackles the ability of bodies, species, and spaces to ‘transform constraints in simultaneously urgent and playful ways’, perhaps these stem from politics and issues on limitations across varying contexts and landscapes relating to localities, agencies, and futures. The exhibition concept highlights prefixes “trans-” (time and space) and “dis-” (inflected resistance) relating to the self as a medium to respond, struggles and/in sex work, transmuted species, and reconstructed fruits, among others.
In Eisa Jocson’s installation, ‘Superwoman KTV Room’, mimics a karaoke television bar with large sofas, loud speakers, and leaping multi-colored lights. The television shows The Filipino Superwoman Band performing “Superwoman” (1988) by Karin White and a Filipino version, “Hindi ako si Darna” (1998) (I am not a Superwoman”) sung by Janine Desiderio. Through choreography and these songs, the work reveals the various layers of women, their emotional labor, and struggles of migrant workers.
The frisky yet clever presentation of some works complement those that are informed by strong instinctiveness and presence. garbanzos utilized various stock photos, some meme formats, popular culture references which included their own portraits in ‘Idle Portraits’ (2019-2020). Some prints are of witty, religious, and political references, but they’re actually a form of social commentary.
Samak Kosem’s ‘Aliens in Adam’s Apple’ (2020) is a 16 minutes 33 second video clip on sexual migration of Burmese young men ‘performing masculinity’, working in Chiang Mai old city. This work forms part of the artist’s ongoing work, “Chiang Mai Ethnography”, since 2017.
Conceivably, ‘Displace, Embody’ not only tackles bodies, species, and spaces as potent medium for distinct changes or adaptation, regardless of the extent each attempts, but a more critical take on how each of these are interrelated; how these can dynamically further one’s understanding of the world and the politics and issues, perhaps tropes and actual stories on displacements and embodiment, that come with those who inhabit it. Perhaps it is indicative and suggestive of interrogations on what and who disrupts seemingly symbiotic and interdependent strings of connection between bodies, species, and against and within their spaces to achieve a certain order or normalcy.
‘Displace, Embody’ is available on view until February 13, 2021 at the UP Vargas Museum in University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, by appointment only. Further information can be found on firstname.lastname@example.org or the museum’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/vargasmuseum.upd. In line with the IATF protocols, the Museum strictly implements safety precautions. Walk-ins will not be entertained.