Diokno Pasilan’s art stems from his community involvement. He moved to San Vicente, Palawan in the late 1990s, a place he still visits every year, traveling annually from his current base of Perth, Australia. The core of works for Here, There, and Everywhere, now running at The Drawing Room, started out as a project in 2003 to provide senior citizens of the town with ID photos for their Philhealth cards. As evidenced in this exhibit, those seemingly innocuous photos make for forceful portraits. Diokno has blown up a selection, transforming what originally had been intended as run-of-the-mill identification tags into the mixed media wall-bound works he has now installed in the gallery.
On each colored photograph, gray haired men and women pin viewers with their unsmiling, austere gazes that look out from creased and weather beaten visages. Around them, Diokno has scribbled verses using coffee. The words are spur-of the moment thoughts, some written in English, others in Filipino. These literary outbursts were inspired by the subjects he has chosen, geriatrics he has portrayed without any concessions to vanity. Each piece gives nothing of their stories away. Yet, you come away thinking of them with sympathy, wishful of learning more.
Two three-dimensional pieces originally made for Sungduan 3, the quadrennial exhibit organized by the NCCA, join the works on the walls. Both make reference to a previous project Diokno also undertook in his Palawan barangay. To encourage his neighbors to take pride in their dwellings, he sponsored a contest. He would award
the best-preserved traditional houses and document their owners’ efforts. Thus, on view is a maquette of a nipa hut printed on cloth and mounted in stilts. The bigger, more interesting piece, Masinlo Project, makes use of several gantangan, wooden boxes used to measure and scoop up grains of rice. Each box has been bisected by a mirror printed with the eyes of his subjects from the ID photo project. Installed at an angle, each one reflects a photo of one of the houses that have taken part in Diokno’s beautification project. The boxes have been arranged in rows, rather like pigeonholes.
The walls of The Drawing Room’s alternate space, the section of the gallery used as an office, have been filled with more of Diokno’s older works. Presented here are his works on textiles, more examples of his community involvement. This time, the pieces showcase his work with weavers who have been experimenting with batik techniques on piña cloth.
Here, There, and Everywhere runs from 25 June to 13 July 2011 at The Drawing Room, 1007 Metropolitan Avenue, Metrostar Bldg, Makati City. Phone (632) 897-7877 or visit http://www.drawingroomgallery.com