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Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 THE YEAR THAT WAS: LOPEZ MEMORIAL MUSEUM AND LIBRARY




This year, 2010 is the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library’s 50th anniversary year and as such its exhibitions After the Fact (February 12-September 18, 2010), Threads : The Museum as Site for the Weaving of Tales (February 19-25) , Extensions and Loob at Labas (both running from November 11, 2010-April 20, 2011) were borne out of the institution’s looking back into its history and envisioning the implementation of its future endeavors.

The institution’s history is closely associated with Filipiniana, particularly the works of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. This idea of Filipiniana was playfully engaged with by the performance of Jean Marie Syjuco. In her piece, Channelling Barbie, the two female figures move towards a monstrous mother figure while a video projection suggestive of cultural imperialism plays on the background. In the same way that aspects of past exhibitions of the Lopez Museum were re-mounted, Myra Beltran performed an excerpt of her Itim Asu . The work is based on Virginia Moreno’s play of the same name which re-tells a legend of the avenging wife of the subject of Hidalgo’s El Asesinato del Gobernador Bustamante y Su Hijo.

From legend to reality, the work of Danilo Dalena called Talo resonates in today’s milieu of lotto outlets and recession. Embodied by performance artist Jef Carnay, the loser now becomes an individual rather than a faceless person. On the other end of the spectrum is the figure in Jose Tence Ruiz’s Topless Victoria who is surrounded by an excess of shoes. The consequences of such excess on the environment and a creative solution to it is provided by Ann Wizer’s High Chair and Flotsam and Jetsam, sculptural pieces that make use of recycled materials. Another example of old materials given new life is Leo Abaya’s Generator , a video installation containing archival materials on the first opening of the Lopez Museum in Pasay and items in its collection. Archival materials, particularly on the Martial Law period, were also utilized and projected unto an engraved marble surface by Kiri Dalena in her work, Watch History Repeat Itself.

Inspired by the weaving and unweaving action indicated by Abaya’s work, the museum presented a tapestry of sorts in the North Court of Powerplant Mall when it brought the works of contemporary artists mentioned above along with a video and stills documenting the history of the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library for the Threads exhibition.

Extensions and Loob at Labas round up the anniversary year exhibitions. A predisposition to mapping was part of the work of the collectives Plataporma and Pilipinas Street Plan (PSP). The collectives used an actual and a digital map respectively to indicate the museum’s reach in terms of awareness of its location by its publics, and to reiterate the PSP’s presence both inside and outside the museum. Exploring the concept of tangibility and intangibility are the video interviews which can be accessed via headphones, various contents transmitted within the museum via three hand-held radios, and a blogsite.

A patch of earth unto which a video of an excavation is projected by Plataporma provides both a contrast and an echo to the drawings of Maya Munoz where the ground is erased and their somewhat amorphous quality encourages layered readings. It is hoped though that readings will not be confined to a limited area, but shared and can lead to action, something Rock Ed advocates. In Loob at Labas, space circumscribed by physical barriers are penetrated by art via outreach. Rock Ed has given writing and art workshops to prisoners whose artworks are displayed alongside the works of Rock Ed volunteers. As the museum and library attempt to take its engagements beyond art and venerable culture, and outside its own comfort zone, collaborations like this could become wholly constructive, apart from experientially gratifying..

Mary Ann Josette E. Pernia
Lopez Memorial Museum

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