Month for Art

It was a busy two months of lectures and talks, conversations and dialogues, exhibition openings and site visits. Here are a few:

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Visiting what remained of art works for Field Notes at the Makiling Botanic Gardens, Los Banos Laguna
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After a talk at Nomina Nuda with colleagues from UP Los Banos and artists for the Field Notes project
At Alfredo Esquillo’s ‘Continuing Spirit’ retrospective at Arete: written on several works in the past including ‘Piety and Place’ for an exhibition at the National University of Singapore Museum. I wrote ‘Pilgrim’s Gift’ for forthcoming catalogue.
In conversation with artist Leo Abaya on his ‘Demograpi, atbp’ exhibition, curated by Patrick Flores at Tin-aw Art Gallery
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After our video shoot for LAWAS Public Art at the UP Diliman campus grounds, with co-curator Cecilia de la Paz, artists Lee Paje and Mark Justiniani. Our closing event will be first week December with a program conceptualised by Franchesca Casauay.



Desire is Elusive Destination: Leo Abaya at Artery Art Space

In his latest exhibition, visual artist and film maker Leo Abaya examines the vicissitudes of time through time-lapse pictures. He begins with an enigmatic exhibition title Because We Cannot Share the Same Light. In two very concise forms, Abaya expands and collapses time into a series of repeated and prolonged scenes of a sunset viewed from a terrace. It is not a specific location, a typical view from a building’s upper floor; in a fracture of a second, the camera even wavers. Four small screens are placed across each other, puzzles of a singular image while two larger screens are installed on the floor to form a cantilevered inverted V.These rest on a mat, signifying the body absent from view and external to the camera’s eye that recorded the scene.

Leo Abaya 2015, Closed Quarters Four-channel video, two-minute loop Courtesy Artery Art Space
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Leo Abaya 2015, Because We Cannot Share the Same Light Two-channel HD time-lapse video and tatami installation, 3-minute loop Courtesy Artery Art Space

We may stand under a canopy of light, but it is seldom we bask in a single shaft or beam. Rare are moments we do. Time is ruled by its caprice. Leo mentions the memory of his father’s passing, loves great yet untimely: don’t we all wish we can spool and unwind time at leisure? Across the screen however, the artist expands time by replicating images, making it move to a slower rhythm.

The exhibition notes describe the installation pieces as ‘time lapse pictures of non-events’, I choose to call them ‘non-places’ for longing is a place no compass can reach yet suffused by the all consuming phenomenon of desiring and yearning. What do we desire? What do we long for? The moments we truly answer these questions are crystalline in weight and form: bathed in clarity, burdened by the gravity of failure and kept afloat by hope. For without a tinge of futility, desire loses some of its power.

Abaya poetically reflects on yearning etched on the body, marked in mind’s eye and stamped in fledgling memory. Pictures allow us to stall time, privileging elusive moments to thrive longer than they actually do.

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Installation view, Closed Quarters Courtesy Artery Art Space
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Detail, Because We Cannot Share the Same Light Courtesy Artery Art Space

Because We Cannot Share the Same Light is on view until 7 February 2015 at Artery Art Space, an artist run space in Cubao Quezon City. Visit their web site for forthcoming projects and exhibitions.

About the artist

Leo Abaya is visual artist and Fine Arts professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He has a Fine Arts degree from UP Diliman and an MFA from the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK. He had his first show in 1997 followed by numerous solo and group exhibitions both in the Philippines and abroad. He complements his diverse artistic practice with production design for film and theater as well as curatorial projects. In 2012, he wrote and directed his first full length film for the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.