I expected the usual chock-a-block exhibit of paintings that Manila galleries love to mount every December to wrap up the year.
Instead, I walked into an intelligent discourse among women artists that yielded a variety of enjoyable pieces.
Initially, curators Lisa Chikiamco and Rica Estrada conceived the show as a chain of thoughts and reactions passed down among forty female visual arts practitioners, sort of like an artistic Pass The Message or Telephone Tree. Each artist’s piece had to be her take on her discussion with another artist in a previously-assigned link. After or while completing her piece, she then engages with the next artist to allow that artist to respond and create her own piece. In the end, as deadlines drew nearer, they ended up with four groups engaged in four streams of thought.
To be honest, I think most artists produced works that kept to their usual inclinations rather than addressing the issues raised in their dialogues. However, as the exhibit installation includes their deliberations transcribed and mounted alongside their
works, we viewers stay engrossed and involved. I particularly enjoyed seeing work from young artists whom I hardly get to view, like Reine Shih‘s Baro of brightly-colored fabric wrapped around a metal grid and Mimi Tecson‘s spray-painted assemblage of toys, Of Echoes, Mirrors, and Round Tables. Anna Varona’s hanging piece fabricated from license plates and blinking lights definitely caught everyone’s attention. I thought it very well done. Ling Quisumbing Ramilo did a Sarah Lucas and created art from her half-smoked cigarettes augmented by butts collected from other artists. Literally a piece to die for. But then, I always like Ling’s works. I also enjoyed MM Yu‘s lightbox of her photocollage of stuffed toys.
Boxed has been an annual project of artists Jay Pacena and Buen Calubayan. All in all, this fourth edition was not a bad way to spend an hour or two. Or in my case, to celebrate getting out of the sickbed.
Boxed: The Start of a Conversation runs from 12 December 2009 until 2 January 2010 at Blanc Compound, 359 Shaw Blvd. Interior, Mandaluyong City. Phone (632) 752-0032 or visit http://www.blanc.ph