Text and photos by Reena Medina
Folding, stamping, coloring, flipping, carving, peeling, cutting, and painting – the list goes on when audiences are asked to use their hands and imagination in the Association of Pinoyprintmakers’s annual exhibition.
“I don’t know if I should be touching that. I’m scared,” a viewer exclaimed. This viewer observes the actions of other visitors and eventually chose to follow the instruction to peel the tape off Radel Paredes’ “Habeas Corpus 1”. Notes of encouragement to interact with the artworks were pasted on the walls yet overly cautious viewers still seemed hesitant to touch them.
The interactive series of artworks aims to maximize the sense of touch of the audience as part of the experience. “Hands On: Touch, Engage, Create” is the annual exhibition of the association of Pinoyprintmakers ran from June 20 to August 11 at the Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino and Pasilyo Victoria Edades of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Some artworks seemed like old friends waiting to be approached for a chance of reconnection
The dangling sheets of collographs of Pandy Aviado’s “Le Coup de Main” seemed to give a high five to the viewers upon entering the exhibit. It feels like these prints on paper acknowledge your presence with a wave of hand. Aside from interacting, viewers can also purchase an anting-anting (amulet) hanging on the wall with an honesty box for payments in Noell El Farol’s “Pinalakas: D.I.Y Disposable Anting-Anting”.
Stamps, flipbooks, coloring sheets, paper cranes, dollhouse and pabitin are reminiscent of the items in a non-restrictive playroom in our childhood. Each guest is welcome to move around and regain their consciousness in awakening their capability to dream, embrace interactions, and use their hands in the process of creation
Guided by the bilingual instructions, the experience remains to be unique for everyone. The accessible pabitin allows viewers to attach a sheet of paper to write their wishes. Rhoda Recto’s “Tree of Life” has leaf-shaped papers for audience to write their own perception of life and paste them on the trunk and branches. Reading notes on the leaves harbors reflective moments in
this visit. The mix and match of facial expressions in Ambie Abaño’s “Re-configuration”, and of body parts on the pages in Angela Silva’s “An Exquisite Corpse of Prints” bring surprises as different versions may come out.
Societal issues are heavily embedded in the themes of Fara Manuel Nolasco’s “Mama Dede Mama Dede Mama Dede… Panglabas Pangloob,” Salvador Ching’s “Rehistro,” and Joey Cobcobo’s “Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone.” The duster as part of the closet of a traditional Filipino mom, a finger print as an indication of voting power, and the masses’ plight for hunger – these items allude to the Filipino culture. Along with their local essence, viewers had to mold clays to form the bread, wear the duster, press their fingers on the stamp pad to immerse their senses.
There’s more work for our hands than tapping and clicking. In this digital age when everything seems to be at the touch of our fingertips, the craft of printmaking still thrives to utilize the movement of our fingers, hands, and arms.
This article is part of a series of submissions from the “Art Writing for Media” workshop hosted by Art+ Magazine and Kwago