Saturday, August 6, 2016, 6 pm
August 6 to September 23, 2016
1335MABINI proudly presents Venture: Capital, a group exhibition from August 6 to September 23, 2016 featuring works by Poklong Anading, Carlos P. Celdran, Tad Ermitaño, Miggy Inumerable, Martin Krenn, Manny Montelibano, and Mark Salvatus.
The development of Metro Manila is entropic. It is a chaotic, sublime disaster, so it is not surprising that it is a vast source of inspiration for many artists. Venture: Capital is a survey of contemporary artworks made by those who have navigated through the metropolis, and reflect back a myriad of intricacies and subtleties that continue to redefine our relationship with the concrete landscape. The exhibition unveils histories and traces boundaries – whether of physical proximity or virtual power – whilst weighing the role of economic interests in determining the trajectory of urban growth.
If we believe that artists are blessed with a surplus of imagination and foresight, and are indeed capable of seeing further, then some of their expressions about the city are clear indications that something is wrong about where this relentless urbanization is going.
In Carlos Celdran’s video piece Miss Manila, we are bombarded with images of Manila’s former glory. Throughout the slideshow are scattered statements that both describe its present subjugation and invite one to imagine things that could have been. Tad Ermitaño’s karaoke video installation, in contrast, shows a problem underneath the city’s skin: its lack of self-sustainability. The video is a karaoke song (You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker) whose music video features an Overseas Filipino Worker as an Astronaut walking around Hong Kong. Although not a film of Metro Manila, the creation of the artwork denotes a culture definitive of it – one with structures so unsustainable that a big chunk of its workforce is forced to channel revenue from other parts of the globe.
Metro Manila’s problematic state can be attributed to how the trajectory of its development and growth is based on economic interests of those in power. It becomes a great nuisance if such a model is imposed hastily in a place by an outside force. It is generally accepted that before colonization, trade in the Philippines was heavily based on a barter system. Mandating any type of monetary currency within a system before material valuation between merchants evens out on its own is like imposing a one-way contract. Things will be kept civilized by force, but among the consequences will be a culture of distrust and ambiguous borders. Poklong Anading’s Homage to Homage and Mark Salvatus’ Gates both purposely interchange notions of material value. The result is a reflection on the aesthetics of power and borders, indicative of a population’s rough divide. The fact that expressions like these remain significant today shows how much citizens are numb to the symptoms of problematic city development. This numbness allows the processes spreading the city’s infrastructure to be easily likened to systematic illusion-making, as seen in Manny Montelibano’s Backplates of Pasay City, or even condensed into automated, robotic processes such as Miggy Inumerable’s software that visualizes the rhythmic chaos of MRT passenger data.
The exhibition is a call for reflection, a reassessment of motives regardless of an individual’s capacity for mass change. Metro Manila is getting fatter without getting taller, so from a geographical perspective, industrial de-centralization is a welcome alternative. But things like monopolies and imbalanced global distribution of capital make this difficult, reinforcing the notion that at the end of the day, economic interests are what pave the roads of a city’s future.