21 February - 2 August 2013
Curated by Ethel Villafranca and Ricky Francisco
This exhibit, Complicated, looks at complex relationship of the Philippines with its colonial pasts. It has commissioned works by guest artists Mike Adrao, Leslie de Chavez, and Ea Torrado. Similar to the previous exhibits in the museum, the art collections as well as archival materials from the library were put together along with the commissioned pieces from the invited artists that would bridge the past and the current.
This exhibition situates the post-colonial critiques presented by the oeuvre of guest visual artists, Leslie de Chavez and Mike Adrao, along with dancer/choreographer Ea Torrado, the many upheavals of Philippine history represented in the archival, library, and art collections of the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library. Focusing on the complicated relationship of the Philippines with its colonial pasts, the exhibit will problematize the notion that identity is both a product of our post-colonial circumstance and the discourse of nationhood.
The exhibit specially references two works from the collection –Espana y Filipinas and Per Pacem et Libertatem – to show how oversees artists Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, albeit known for their nationalistic representation of the country by being at par with the Europeans, created works that were propagandistic in nature, which likewise supported the colonizers.
Leslie de Chavez interacts with Hidalgo’s painting through his oil on gold leaf on wooden panel work. Not Everything That Glitters is Gold takes the bottom right area of Per Pacem et Libertatem and blew it up. Recreating the painting, de Chavez states that it was also challenging for him to replicate the seemingly detailed yet soft and painterly style of Hidalgo. He also mentions that he specifically used the Hidalgo painting since it represents benevolent assimilation, a proclamation that was issued by US President William McKinley in 1898 during the Philippine-American war. It reads:
Finally, it should be the earnest wish and paramount aim of the military administration to win the confidence, respect, and affection of the inhabitants of the Philippines by assuring them in every possible way that full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of free peoples, and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule.
An installation of de Chavez is placed in the gallery as well. State of Your Liberty tackles the replication of the rampant American culture and the preference to Western goods in society. Relating to the liberty provided by the Americans through education, pop culture, etc. The Filipinos may think that they or on top or have in control of liberty, yet there are miniscule improvements especially based on the installation of informal settlers set on the top/bottom of the statue. The installation also has small symbols of brands, indicating the difficulty escaping cultural imperialism.
The works of another invited artist Mike Adrao, are along the Rotonda. Through his research in the vast photo archives of the museum, Adrao was able appropriate the photos that he found to his artworks. Taken collectively, the two series Colony and Infectious is a narrative of historical and cultural transformation with a sense of disorientation through its influence on identity. For Colony every pillar is a distorted internal reflection of what we have been through as a country while Infectious is a metaphor of the connection of sense of decay and infection in culture that are adamantly influencing people today.
For Colony, Adrao dwells on the notion that the foundation of a nation is its people. As shown in the artwork, the human form is deformed by the layers of its complex historical and cultural colonial inception. The face is evident to show its indigenous dissent on the hands of a sign of a human form covered underneath.