Maniobra /Reversals is a reflexive turn on uneasy relationships with the real. In the show’s suite of works, Benjo Elayda, Eric Guazon, Lotsu Manes and Kirby Roxas wrestle with the discomfiting affects of the framed image. Maniobra/Reversals signifies maneuvers, a shifting of gears and a confrontation with images crowding everyday life. The works share a fascination with the image, but it is an interest tinged with salient anxiety. These are elaborated by shared transpositions seen in Manes’s ‘dethronements’, the mutations of Guazon’s toy soldiers, the spliced cubes of Roxas’s heads, and the fragmented jockey gambling a leap in Elayda’s canary ground. These strategies hint at shared un-ease of the coherent subject and common fragmented worlds of replacements. Akin to life’s unpredictable course, these framed worlds chart anticipation and chance, enjoining viewers to stir sometimes, already placated imaginations.
Screen / Frame / Event
Crucial agents of such discoveries, both viewing subject and picturing object are compasses that set the tone of visual encounters. In his take on Lacan’s challenge of the privileged subject, Foster (1996:139) asserts the regard emanating from the object. The encounter between the gaze and the picturing object is mediated by a screen, the “cultural reserve of which the image is an instance” (Foster 1996:140). In this exhibition, the screens are articulated through the visual devices of reflection, repetition, the merged, transposed time-worlds of speed, anticipation and dreams. The protracted dissolve and disintegrating head in Guazon’s “x + Why=?” and the manic, pixilated completion of Roxas’s “Taong Grasya” illustrate one layer of this arbitrary screen. Witnesses to the seeming furtive iconic replacement in Manes’s “Dethronement” and caught up in the protracted leap of Elayda’s “Reguarding Painting”, we are simultaneously transported to the disparate spaces of domestic familiarity and dream’s eeriness and random flow.
The frame truncating the image, and that confines and freeze the depicted event constitute another layer of the screen that Foster evokes. We find the same frame paradoxically demarcating a work’s spatial confines and our actual world, while blurring them in imagined spaces birthed by viewing encounters. These frames are constituted by the layered surfaces of Guazon’s mixed-media work, painstakingly built up with a mixture of matted grids, glue and sawdust. Somehow, this strenuous surface is negated by a sealed top layer of gloss and seeming coherence. To view closely is to reveal the underlying mass while to view from afar is to make sense of the pattern of slow, yet orchestrated unraveling. On the other hand, Roxas’s “Taong Grasya” adamantly demands its completion through the manic rain of blocks from imagined benevolent heavens or the flat, depthless screens of virtual worlds. We are compelled to make the old woman’s head apparent through the wedged torrent of ‘grasya’, eerily cognizant of death’s eventuality or perhaps, eager to be the recipient of consumerist panacea from unknown heavens or depthless virtuality.
Boundaries also define these screens and we experience them in the proximity of the mirrored room of Manes’s “Dethronement”. The reflected surfaces constitute the depicted mirror and the viewer’s witness of a seemingly furtive substitution happening. The act of dethronement should not have been a mere replacement but rather a critical questioning, especially so when the one ‘enthroned’ occupies a precarious position of credibility. Here, the domestic confines of a room are disrupted by mirrored surfaces that echo the questioning that surface in a child’s mind. On the contrary, Elayda unsettles this familiarity by merging the frantic arena of horse racing with the hovering realm of the leap. The jockey is transfixed in space, about to dive over obstacles obscured by geometry. We wonder whether he makes it beyond ordered geometry or enters another track beyond the frame. In smaller works, Manes and Roxas enlarge elements of the bigger works. Manes zooms into the refracted image captured by the mirror, while Roxas shows concentrated pixels of a young boy’s head wary of warnings about life’s risks. Guazon echoes the dissolution in pastel rendered shadows of unfathomable blues of delusion and loss.
While enamored with the realistic image, these artists likewise rethink this fascination and resort to visual devices that attempt to decode an ambiguous and perplexing attraction. Thus, we witness refracted fragments, abated wholeness and conjoined space-times of otherwise disparate scenes. While the images and figures depicted in this grouping of works are easily recognizable, the manner by which they have been reframed and distanced from this familiarity makes them uncannily strange. This peculiarity, however, constructs another visual register inhabited by the viewer and projected by the objects/images that carry them. And therein lies the power of the realistic image – stirring the placid surfaces of all-too familiar images and birthing new modes of making sense.
Foster, Hal. 1996. The Return of the Real. London and Cambridge: The MIT Press.