You gotta hand it to Mae Paner. First, she creates an alter ego that fearlessly takes on the political issues of the day. As Juana
Change, the obese and vulgar personality she adopts on You Tube broadcasts, Mae has
created a cult phenomenon. Now she publicly challenges herself to lose weight, to take on a healthier lifestyle. But not before allowing 36 artists to document her in all her voluptuous glory. She lets it all out—stomach folds, cellulite ripples, Rubenesque buttocks and arms—naked, for all of us to see. The exhibit notes say that we should expect the artists to mount Part II sometime before the May 2010 elections. Mae will then reveal her, hopefully, much more svelte self. In the meantime, let’s enjoy her hefty proportions while we still can!
As with exhibits of this magnitude and variety, I can’t help but choose my favorites. Kawayan de Guia‘s photograms top my list. He prints them on glass mirrors, and when viewed from different angles, his images distort like holograms. He frames his pieces in a sunburst pattern from cut oil cans (literally Baguio oil!) which seem reinforced with wood underneath. His frank, grotesque, in-your-face treatment of Juana induce just the right amount of cringe that I look for when deliberating on art. He piles on the humor too. In one of his pieces, he juxtaposes a stretched out Juana against a sweatshirt that reads “Physical Education”. Another shows a pensive Juana perhaps dreaming of her beauty underneath the blubber.
I also loved Mark Justiniani‘s pieces. No one works with pastel the way he does. His oil on canvas piece, Parting, is vintage Mark.
The show also aims to raise funds for Mae to continue her You Tube productions. What a great way to do so!
Pangatawanan Mo Nah! runs from 5 to 15 November 2009 at the UP Vargas Museum, UP Diliman, Quezon City.