Gaston Damag grew up around bululs. Raised in a family of craftsmen, he even admits to having parlayed his woodcarving skills into creating reproductions for tourists in search of these antique rice gods. Today, even as he constantly exhibits in France and in other European locales, his Ifugao roots resonate very vividly in his art installations and performance pieces. His artistic psyche is inextricably linked to the world of the Cordilleras.
In this show at SLab, Gaston reworks pieces originally done for a Parisian museum. Instead of using wood, he casts his bululs in resin polyester to irreverent proportions. He brings these symbols of tradition and ancestry to the modern age, juxtaposing them against steel scaffoldings, fluorescent bulbs, and electrical drills. He forces us to examine, as he probably does himself, how this change in context and medium affects how we look at a figure so associated with rice rituals and ancient beliefs. Does it retain its mystique?
This is Gaston’s first major show in the Philippines, and for that reason alone, this show is worth visiting. It brings something different to our art scene, and I can imagine, incurs varied reactions from viewers. Alongside this, the Silverlens group brings us two other exceptional exhibits: Stereo I, collaborative works by Christina Dy and Juan Cagicula and Paper Panic, works on paper from Dina Gadia and Mark Salvatus.
Thank you to Rachel Rillo for these photos. My amateur attempts would not have done justice to Gaston’s pieces.
Synthetic Reliquaries runs from 13 January to 13 February 2010 at SLab, 2F YMC Bldg, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. Phone (632) 816-0044 or visit http://www.slab.silverlensphoto.com