Text and photos by Chesca Santiago
It is a habit of the nostalgic and the sentimental alike to associate people with the places that they find themselves in. Whether it is with whom you once shared company in a certain place or just someone who holds likeness with the sights and smells of a place you’re in, these people usher in new meanings – welcome, or otherwise – to the places that one visits. And Anton Belardo’s Jellyfish Karaoke is surely a tender case.
The third part of Belardo’s mixed-media installations under the Jellyfish Kisses Visual Diary Series, transforms an entire space into a karaoke room reminiscent of those found in amusement arcades. The likeness is haunting; it’s a fond memory probably frequented by guests in their younger, carefree years. There is no shortage of foil and all things sparkly in the constrained, party-lit room; foil balloons hung from the ceiling, a foil fringe curtain bedecks the main wall, and pillows clad in foil cases serve as cozy seating choices on the floor. And as the working karaoke machine waits for your command, Belardo’s trademark paintings in playful, psychedelic colors hung around the walls, also anticipating your choice of song.
But amidst all the crazy colors strewn everywhere the karaoke room, Jellyfish Karaoke ironically remains a quiet and safe space true to the message of the artist. Jellyfish Karaoke is a parent, a sibling, a friend, and a confidant inviting you to rip your vulnerabilities open for the whole room to hear. It is all the times you snuck yourself into a karaoke room, whether to ugly cry over a break-up song or to dance wildly to the latest summer song.
And how Jellyfish Karaoke manages to retain intimacy despite the visual riot is a feat long perfected by Belardo. His works are deceptive; masking the private with the loud and the flashy. It’s almost as if the artist puts up one last wall before he finally lets his guard down, a final attempt to conceal himself. Throughout his Visual Diary Series, Belardo has revealed deeply personal details that dangerously border the overshared. However, he eludes the uncomfortable by turning his installations into a shared memory with his guests. He turned his very own Jellyfish Karaoke into his guests’ own room as well, inviting them to sing their stories alongside his own.
Jellyfish Karaoke is another courageous invitation from Belardo to celebrate feelings and vulnerability. The extravagant yet intimate visuals of Jellyfish Karaoke are a reminder for its guests to acknowledge both highs and lows, both the reckless and the warm with, of course, a trusted confidant to sing along with you.
This article is part of a series of submissions from the “Art Writing for Media” workshop hosted by Art+ Magazine and Kwago.