I have written mostly about artist Mark Justiniani’s Infinity series. While the works progress into each other, they are never the same as are my conversations with Mark and his partner, artist Joy Mallari. I have seen most these works at various stages, but this last piece was already shipped to Hong Kong when we all met to talk about the catalogue text. Mark aptly described it and the motivations that went into its making nonetheless. Our chat strayed to that fraught question of believing: in god or an omniscient power, or a spirit guide, ancestors for that matter, or fate even. It was a conversation steeped in thoughts about existence, death and the failure to reckon with life’s brevity or in rather mundane terms: chances not taken, moments never seized, truths never told, or lies allowed to fester. I guess conversations of this kind are by nature never resolved, spooling into ever more twisted skeins of reflection existing in moments, never future or past but now.
Day and night
Beam, ray, shaft
An inert world of unmoving time
Place without shadows
A velvet shrouded earth of languid rhythms
Objects without edges
Communion and solitude
A conjoined piece fuses structure and machine, a cathedral of windows, a collider to diffuse atom. Both entrap and emit light as they speak to existence. Sanguine twins, Janus, a clock’s ticking face, alternately grand and monstrous, these constructions attempt to decipher the complex structure of existence.
Mortal, earth bound, corporeal or rather ethereal, adrift on wings, thus transcendent. Myriad complexity or simple unity, coherent and confounding all the same. For indeed, how is one before these grandiose embodiments of human aspiration and ambition? A cathedral to cradle the soul, where spirits soar to sublime heights and the body is pierced with light: transformations in a theatre of faith. Moving at light’s speed, a machine to break particles down into basic mass, a field where particles collide: an arena of creation and destruction.
Two infinities imagined: the vast and the minutiae contain questions we can only begin to fathom.
Life and death
Enlarging and diminishing
Life sprouting, shrivelling
Budding and decaying
An ending and beginning
Death and life
One awakens to life with flickering light and a cry, one leaves it by blinding light and a quivering breath.
Temple captures the myriad mysteries of existence, plagued as we are by the eternal question of being and purpose. Do we truly reside here or elsewhere? We may leave without knowing or perhaps it is beyond knowing. Or if we begin to believe we are close to understanding, our knowledge is aborted by sudden leavings. A paradox we attempt to untangle.
Art embodies this striving, in its bid to forge enigma in material form. The most voluble of them speak to great mystery through the calibration of the senses. We are by turns perplexed and amused, drawn into a miniscule version of the universe then thrown back into a vast world. Then we begin to grasp the mystery of creation that buttresses art, a form of solace that assuages our fears: of leaving without mark and trace.
Solitude and communion
Within and beyond
A galaxy of stars
Universes in fusion
Night and day
Chaos rule as we persist in the numbing grind of days folding and time falling in unrelenting haste. We fear the loss of tomorrow, we quaver at the passing of an hour or a precious minute. We invent solace, manufacture escapes to multiply our joys: little versions of transcendence where we become effervescent and fleetingly immortal.