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Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE TRUNS


THE TRUNS: Jevijoe Vitug
November 12- December 04, 2011
Upstairs Gallery

US-based Filipino artist Jevijoe Vitug presents his latest ‘visual environment’ in the Upstairs Gallery at Manila Contemporary: THE TRUNS, a case study about economic survival and community based sustainability. Vitug’s work is multidisciplinary in nature often dealing with the effects of globalisation on the environment and economy. However, the burden of such an agenda is usually subverted through a playful brand of folk and pulp comic imageries that also absorb science fiction aesthetics. THE TRUNS is once such approach and presents a fictitious brand of turrones de casuy. Launching this new local product/business during the opening, Vitug presents a wry ‘Pinoy’ candy land utilising the language of brand marketing to entice viewers to understand the need and possibility for local businesses to compete and survive, both domestically and internationally.

TRUNS is the name of the mascot of the brand, a curiously grinning candy man (similar to an astronaut) who appears in various formats throughout the show. It is an invented word that is also the short form of turrones employing a type of brand trade marking such as the Starbucks ‘frap’ or frappucino. Whether as an actual live mascot, toy or as part of painted images, Vitug uses the ‘art of corporate merchandising’ in an outer space themed environment. A parable of the vendors of the turrones de casuy, the astronaut is a type of intruder in various environments, using their own form of technology (similar to the hybrid kiosk of the travelling vendor) to survive in various surroundings.

Vitug has worked with the Aeta community in Pampanga to produce his TRUNS toys which are made out of ash from Mt. Pinatubo and fibreglass. Turrones de Casuy is also a delicacy from Pampanga introduced by the Dominicans during the Spanish colonial period, and could be termed an early form of globalisation which was then localised and passed down through oral traditions. This type of action and reflection within communities and upon culture is characteristic of Vitug’s work. Through strategies of comedy and folk culture aesthetics he combines a survivalist type of hybridity or making the best of what you have, that is so well known in the Philippines with the aspirational values of global economies that ultimately stresses the need for interconnectivity in today’s society.

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