HID­DEN AGENDA

Town & Country (Philippines) - - OUT ABOUT - IRIS FERRER

The land­scape of con­tem­po­rary art is clot­ted with nu­anced and of­ten dis­re­garded con­tra­dic­tions. It serves as the cus­to­dian for ideas and vis­ual lan­guage of the times, yet it is at the same time po­lit­i­cally driven by the in­ten­tions of those in­side its cir­cle. Ar­guably, as its pri­mary pro­ducer, the artist pre­car­i­ously stands at its cen­ter.

“Marathon,” Lyra Gar­cel­lano’s lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion at Fi­nale Art File, is a pointed but truth­ful ex­posé of the var­i­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions and com­pro­mises en­acted by the artist in or­der to progress in the field. La­bels such as “Philip­pine con­tem­po­rary artist” or “South­east Asian Artist” are capri­ciously ap­plied to anchor one’s stand­ing. There is, per­haps, the de­sire to be memo­ri­al­ized as a na­tional artist, to have one’s works in­cluded in an in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tion; to achieve “glory” as dic­tated by a com­plex sys­tem con­trolled by the pow­er­ful few. “Marathon” is a can­did ad­mit­tance of how Gar­cel­lano par­tic­i­pates in this sys­tem. To serve as a book­end for her se­ries of ex­hi­bi­tions, which in­clude “Dou­ble Con­scious­ness” and “Dear Artist,” tack­ling the theme of ref­er­enc­ing her foot­ing in the field, the artist not only puts her­self in the mir­ror, but also chal­lenges her peers. This self-re­flex­iv­ity al­lows her the per­spec­tive of an art-world in­sider, but it’s a dou­ble edged sword: does she have the dis­tance re­quired for pure ob­jec­tiv­ity in cri­tique? The test of true crit­i­cal­ity is mea­sured in its com­mit­ment to the search for the mid­dle ground. “Marathon” is a con­tin­u­a­tion of that con­ver­sa­tion. Through wit and play, her satir­i­cal com­men­tary ad­dresses is­sues that are eas­ier con­cealed and for­got­ten. Au­gust 4 to 29, Ware­house 17, La Fuerza Com­pound, 2241 Chino Ro­ces Av­enue, Makati; 810-4071; fi­naleart­file.com.

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