Sometimes only a Pinoy word will do to convey an incredible experience. Find time to pass by the Ateneo Art Gallery’s newly-
expanded space (they’ve completely taken over the old Rizal Library), and see if you don’t agree with me. How else can you describe
Leeroy New’s installation other than galing? Because it is. So galing! Conceptualized with thinking that goes beyond awesome, and put together by the creative use of simple materials that goes beyond super, you really just have to say
In Balete, Leeroy wraps the posts of the gallery’s facade with his version of a Balete tree, one constructed from cable lines , flexible tubing used for electric conduits. Accented by plastic cable ties, the tree twists and turns between the building’s columns, simulating the gnarling, gigantic roots of an actual Balete. Also known as the Banyan in Southeast Asia, the Balete possesses a mystical reputation. It guards sacred spaces, monasteries and old churches. Leeroy comments that the orange cables remind him of the saffron robes used by Buddhist monks.
In the Philippines, we know the Balete as the dwelling place of extra-terrestrials and enchanted spirits. Leeroy worked with graphic designer Dan Matutina for projections that mimic the enchantments bestowed by legend on a Balete. Come by during the evenings of the exhibit’s run and catch the apparitions suggested by the light patterns. You may even see a wisp of the legendary White Lady crossing the tree’s intermingling branches.
Simultaneous to Leeroy’s installation, Kiri Dalena mounts Watch History Repeat Itself inside the gallery’s space for contemporary exhibits. Kiri continues her documentation of protest slogans that began with Keeping the Faith, the piece that won the 2009 Ateneo Art Awards. Earlier this year, she carried on this exercise in The Present Disorder Is The Order Of The Future (for which she got into the shortlist of this year’s awards) by using marble slabs as the medium to memorialize these slogans and placard texts. For this current exhibit, she shifts to another medium—neon lights. The idea of recording text in neon came to her after an evening spent with
Caucasian colleagues in the red light district of Mabini. Subjected to the indignities that inevitably fall on a young Filipina seen in the company of foreigners, the experience sparked her militant streak, leading to an “aha” moment among the flashing signs. In her exhibit, she recreates the tag Liar Liar in neon, appropriated from the Jim Carrey movie by rally participants of a 2004 protest action after the Hello Garci scandal. Kiri also compiles her collected texts in her Yellow Book Of Slogans. Playing on one wall is video clip borrowed from ABS-CBN News. It shows a student protest at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. The film catches school chairs being hurled from inside the campus, forming a mound of chairs that echo the detritus left from student protests during the Martial Law era. A sure sign that some things never change.
Both Leeroy and Kiri return to the gallery for homecoming exhibits after their 2009 Ateneo Art Awards residency grants. Leeroy spent time in Sydney, at the La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre while Kiri went to Bandung, Indonesia, to the Common Room Networks Foundation.
Balete runs from 14 July to 30 October 2010.
Watch History Repeat Itself runs from 14 July to 16 August 2010.
Both shows are at the Ateneo Art Gallery, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Phone (632)426-6488 or visit http://www.gallery.ateneo.edu