When cross-disciplinary artist Maxine Syjuco started conceptualizing her piece, She May After Drinking You Sink Quickly Or
Drown, she shuttled between two construction sites. Outside her bedroom window she would track the progress, and hear the inevitable noises, that came with building a small structure, one that would eventually house a studio for her parents, artists Cesare and Jean Marie Syjuco. At the same time, the space that had been earmarked for her work, what had just been designated as the new gallery space of The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, was also in the process of being refitted. It would open just in time for the Syjuco family’s exhibit at the hotel.
Maxine’s installation recreates the construction site of her parents’ studio inside the newly opened gallery. She uses it as remembrance to both what the gallery space had just gone through, and what had been a constant presence in the vicinity of her personal space. She recycles materials salvaged from the site in her home and transforms them, thereby reflecting and continuing the creative process that went on before in both places.
Waste materials have been given new life: the coco-timber used for the studio’s scaffolding has been reused here; they form
the structure that anchors the entire piece. Maxine fabricated long and flowy dresses from the paper sacks that had contained gravel and cement. She finishes these dresses by scribbling lines from her poems that she had previously
rejected as not being good enough.
Maxine hangs several photographs within her interactive piece. She describes these black and white pieces as recycled artworks. To put them together, she started off with old photographs of her performance pieces salvaged from albums that had been damaged by flood. She took new photos of these damaged photos, and then superimposed them on new photographs taken of the construction site. It is from these images of herself that the patterns of the papier mache dresses have been taken from.
The title of this installation echoes the process that these photographs had gone through. Previously drowned photos have been drowned again in the process of redeveloping them.
Maxine’s artist statement injects a tribute to the overseas worker within the piece. I thought that added unnecessary complexity to a piece that already contains so much food for thought. On its own, it already delivers a visual punch.
The Syjuco family exhibit, Left of Center, is spread out over all the public areas of the hotel. The photo collages of patriarch Cesare, with its hilarious lines and witty images, grace the hotel’s entrance and lobby, as well as the elevator lobbies of all floors. Jean Marie has an installation piece at the lounge area. Also at the main lobby, by the elevators, Michelline Syjuco resurrects her embellished wooden horse from the 2009 Sungduan exhibit at the National Museum. It is her commentary on globalization as a Trojan horse for developing countries. Trixie’s (Beatrix) video plays on the second floor lobby’s main wall.
While Maxine’s piece is undoubtedly the major work in this exhibit, you can’t help but imbibe the creative energy of this talented family. They often work together, and it shows in how their pieces gel. Their household must be so much fun!
Left Of Center with Cesare A.X. Syjuco, Jean Marie Syjuco, Michelline Syjuco, Maxine Syjuco, and Beatrix Syjuco runs from 24 September to 24 October 2010 at The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, 119 LP Leviste St., Makati City, Philippines. Phone (632) 828-4774 or visit http://www.picassomakati.com or http://www.artcabinetphilippines.com