Manila-based visual artist Indy Paredes holds his recently opened space’s third show.
By Alain Zedrick Camiling
After studying painting at the University of the Philippines in 2015, completing a residency at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, and working in art galleries for a couple of years, Manila-based visual artist Indy Paredes launched Gravity Art Space (GAS) last March 2021 in Quezon City. GAS devotes itself to the contemporary art scene with emphasis on the primacy of artistic process and collaboration to sustain a platform for “dialogues, discoveries, and disclosures”. Co-presented by A+ Works of Art, Gravity Art Space mounts its third exhibition ‘Errant Life, Promiscuous Form’ curated by Carlos Quijon, Jr. this 28 May to 3 July 2021. The participating artists are based in Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok which include Samak Kosem, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Jao San Pedro, Pam Quinto, Mark Salvatus and SeekersInternational, Tan Zi Hao, Isola Tong, and Yim Yen Sum.
The idea of building Gravity Art Space emerged from Paredes’ ongoing thoughts vis-a-vis foreseeing a bounce-back phenomena post-pandemic time. He has observed that most galleries went into online promotions and the markets continuously support these despite the pandemic. “For me, to promote art and artists, one way is to put up a space to be a legitimate institution that does the task of endorsing art”, he adds as he aspires for the post-pandemic where thinkers and makers will come up with more “daring and intellectual projects”.
This kind of thinking stems from his initial engagements in management and curation, particularly working on his second solo show ‘Endings are Beginnings of Pendings’ in 2016 at 1335 Mabini and curating the late Carlos Celdran’s ‘Damaso’s Reading Room’ in 2017 at the Case Tesoro, Manila. He describes both projects as collaborative curatorial projects having worked with Ian Carlos Jaucian and Carlos Celdran on the latter. He sees the establishment of the space as his contribution to the ecosystem, particularly being a platform for creative discourses.
In reflection, the space is a ‘contact zone’ considering its trajectories and current schema. “Contact zones” are “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other”, according to Mary Louise Pratt (1999) and James Clifford (1997) who attributed museums as “places of hybrid possibility and political negotiation, sites of exclusion, and struggle”. With possibilities vis-à-vis space in mind, Gravity Art Space’s current exhibition, ‘Errant Life, Promiscuous Form’, is third of its first sets of shows indicative of such characteristics of a ‘contact zone’.
Exhibition curator Carlos Quijon, Jr., shares that ‘Errant Life, Promiscuous Form’ takes off from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s formulation “to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life”, situated in contexts of aesthetic experience, artistic practice, and social life. The exhibition scrutinises form and life, interrelations and interfacings which are evocative of the participating artists’ artistic practices such as of interdisciplinary thinking and production and prolific experimentation on forms and media.
The exhibition ushers its publics through works by Pam Quinto like ‘So-called Biological Clock’ (2021), a Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag. Quinto reflects on the question “Does womanhood really have an expiration date?” through a living ceramic sculpture suggestive of an ovary’s shape all covered with plants, moss, and mold. Here, she probes life, growth, and changes related to the afterlife of objects, particularly the body and intimacies. These are further reinforced by ‘Longing Vessel’ (2021), along with two more works of mixed media from the same artist, yet again an ovary-shaped stoneware covered with land moss in a clear display case elevated on a wooden column.
What follows through is ‘Autofiguration’ (2021) by Jao San Pedro. It is an installation of a textile in hues of grey beside archival prints on paper with images of a standing person clothed with the same textile in the room worn like a dress, shot in different angles, where the head is shown partially. Afar, the textile installed appears to be a large banner with square-shaped components cut in many angles and sides. San Pedro’s work is suggestive of how life mediates forms and vice versa. Parallel to Mark Salvatus’ ‘See Saw, ACT 1 (The Seed)’ (2021), in collaboration with Seekersinternational, is a 10-minute compilation of videos gathered from the artist’s file storages since 2007.
Another work that remains interesting in connection to form and life situated in a myriad of contexts is Gary-Ross Pastrana’s ‘Paperweight’ (2017). It is a manmade starfish consisting of soil, water, and few drops of blood from the artist, in rustic brown placed on a ream of white papers filled with texts placed on the floor. Joined by another work titled ‘Fellen’ (2017), a makeshift flower in an acrylic box, the artist’s interest in the afterlives of things as well as its conjectural stands out through such transposition of forms.
Such familiarity from the mundane complements the works on display through Tan Zi Hao’s ‘The Light When Dust Settles’ (2021), a gold-dusted household casebearer (Phereoeca spp.) coated in cabochon glass. A scanning electron microscope- (SEM) magnified image of the casebearer is flashed on a screen making it look like covered with particles such as rocks and dust.
What invites one to shift their focus after viewing the works from the first side of the exhibition are 3 60×85 cm. framed sarongs with outlandish and intricate prints and Arabic texts by Samak Kosem titled ‘brotherhood’ (2021). Upon viewing, you’d easily hear ‘habibi’ (2021), a 7-minute performance video which shows a dancing man in dark-colored collared shirt looped with an excerpt showing diverse audiences. These form part of Kosem’s ‘Otherwise Inside’, an ongoing project launched in 2017 investigating legibility of queer Muslims in Thailand and Asia.
Yin Sum Yen’s ‘The Floating Island’ (2020) is a gauze dyed in black acrylic with embroidery in gold thread resembling dwellings that look like tenements. The natural lighting’s effect makes the embroidery stand out as it goes through the suspended gauze. And finally, Isola Tong’s ‘Florophilia’ (2021) wraps up the show through an intermedia installation of a Ghillie suit on view as if it’s worn by someone, reminding the viewer to rethink ideas on formmaking and possible related interventions. Afar, the work appears to be a standing human, about 5 to 6 feet tall, covered with leaves and other natural objects found in a grassy environment. “Florophilia” is an iteration of ‘Forest of Agencies’ where Tong predicates the forest as a becoming site for cultivating ecologies.
The works are suggestive of a myriad form of life including its postulations and formmaking through interventions on sentient elements in Tan Zi Hao’s ‘The Light When Dust Settles’ and Tong’s ‘Florophilia’, the effervescence of materials in Quinto’s works, and mediations on form and life in San Pedro’s and Salavatus’. Further, how these forms are shaped by peculiar substantiality and contexts derived from social life and its sociality in Kosem’s and Yim Yen Sun’s to Pastrana’s chimeric ideas on life and afterlife of things through his practice.
The exhibition also draws connections between life and form and how the two mutually constitute each other. Here, Quijon reimagines life as something that encompasses organic existence into social life including a myriad of processes and gestures of participation through the artists, artworks, and the space. The exhibit also investigates lives of ideas, materials, and objects as these metamorphose and translate within practice and its ability to proliferate sensibilities and tropes as seen in Quinto’s ‘So-called Biological Clock’ and Pastrana’s ‘Paperweight’, among others, where both surveyed considerable concepts rendered and magnified through their respective practices.
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Predominantly, ‘Errant Life, Promiscuous Form’ propels one to rethink forms and life. It is a reminder of our own proclivities on veering away from scrutinizing what else is beyond life and form, characterized by various contexts and shaped by various agencies, articulations, and interventions. The exhibition, through the space, indeed acts as a contact zone where publics are enjoined to explore possibilities, negotiations, and varied concerns with art, artists, curators, and themselves as part of the sphere.
‘Errant Life, Promiscuous Form’ is on view at Gravity Art Space, 1810 Mother Ignacia Ave., Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines until 3 July 2021. Catch the second part of the exhibition’s artist talk on June 30, 2021 at 3:00 to 4:00 PM. More details can be found on Gravity Art Space’s channels.