September 16, 2009

AAA 2009: Memories of martial law

The third artist who won in the 2009 Ateneo Art Awards is Kiri Dalena, who is also a film-maker, for her installation at the Lopez Memorial Museum's "Keeping the Faith: Acts of Mediation" exhibit from November 13, 2008 to April 4, 2009. Dalena's art installation was titled "Barricade, book of slogans, erased slogans and isolation room" and is her interpretation of the Philippines' martial law years, which she didn't experience because of her young age. Of all the pieces in the current exhibit, I feel that the small portion from Dalena's installation which was transported to the Ateneo Art Gallery does not do her original work justice. In the Lopez Museum, she had an entire room for her installation, which was much more complex than what is in the gallery right now. If you care to understand her original piece more, please read the gallery's notes below. 2009 ATENEO ART AWARDS SERIES #3 OF 4

Barricade, book of slogans, erased slogans and isolation room by Kiri Dalena

Dialogues between archives and contemporary art practice are inevitable as induced tensions. Museums and libraries are repositories of memory and they are appointed as sites for preservation and education , where silence, stasis and stringent controls on tangibility and visibility are imposed. The artist enters this realm and causes a disruption of order. Within this context, installation art offers avenues to liberate memory from reliquary confines.

Dalena embarks on this dialogue by referencing photographs of protests and rallies during the period of Martial Law and adjuncts this to present-day extrajudicial killings. The sentiment is just to be expected. A portrait of state brutality in these past visual journals resonates in the unsolved and unresolved executions and disappearances that the artist deals with in her advocacy work. But this is not simply an emotional confrontation between past and present. Dalena had chosen instead to employ a conscious placement of transcriptions within a setting of school chairs and tables. Read as evidence after the fact, the transcripts are regarded in the texts removed from the photographed placards which have then been transferred into little red books. A pile of chairs recall the barricades built during the First Quarter Storm, of which one arm had been detached and reattached to cradle a copy of the book. Fallen clay bodies are strewn among the rubble, their outlines repeated on the wall. The museum's storage is transformed into an isolation room for one more crouching figure where the texts are again transcribed as a haunting recitation.

The installation sums up what the artist admits to as borrowed memories which she cannot help but manipulate within her own sphere of meanings. By transferring archive into transformative action, Dalena not only opens a renewed awareness of the past. She makes us confront our comfortable tendency to bury history within its silent and stately demarcations.

21 comments:

Olivier said...

originale comme création, un hommage, j'avoue ne pas avoir su tout traduire

Cezar and Léia said...

Different art! I think it's important to remember some historical themes.

"The past is a curtain of glass.
Blessed are those who observe the past to move forward in the future"...

B SQUARED said...

One very complicated artist.

arabesque said...

whoa! a whole lotta pile-up chairs!
that's artsy...

Leif Hagen said...

Oh, Hilda! What a mess! Couldn't you have done a better job stacking those chairs in a nice, orderly way. 4 chairs high in nice rows . . .

Halcyon said...

This is my favorite one so far. Thanks for sharing her story as well, it makes the art mean much more.

George said...

I found this exhibit to be interesting and strangely (for me) moving.

Lois said...

Very nice Hilda! The story is interesting too.

ellievellie said...

I remember those art pieces from your post few weeks ago. The chair pile is unforgettable - which is great achievement in the busy art world.

Frank said...

It is important that younger artists (creative-types of all artistic endeavors) interpret our history, long past and more contemporary. It's amazing how young artists who did not experience events themselves - or weren't even alive - interpret them for "us" who lived them or even took part. At some point we gain a perspective we didn't see or expect. This installation is quite interesting and thought-provoking.

Good post, Hilda!

James said...

This is a reminder tha art is deeper and far more complex than just pretty pictures and eye catching sculptures. Great post Hilda.

Jacob said...

I don't understand piling up chairs. ;-)

But I love to read your writing about it! Your prose reads like poetry ... words that ring joyously as they flow together in interconnected and sometimes unexpected meaning:

"...where silence, stasis and stringent controls on tangibility and visibility are imposed." ...

"...confront our comfortable tendency to bury history within its silent and stately demarcations."

Poetry! Sheer poetry!

Were you educated by Jesuits?

Have a wonderful day!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Very interesting piece, capture, and discussion!

Hilda said...

Jacob:
Thank you for the vote of confidence, but I didn't write any of the exhibit notes! I just copied them here. I'll have to find out who the writer is just for you! :)

Vogon Poet said...

A good title would be: Much Ado About Nothing...
Yes, we want to know the Author of these notes!

Petrea said...

It's a riveting piece, and your shot is excellent.

Ken Mac said...

order and disorder

Kaori said...

That must of taken hours to pile up! Great piece!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Thank you for posting the winning art, Hilda. I'm amazed that you were allowed to photograph it, though. I've been stopped in art galleries and asked to delete my photos.

the donG said...

i particularly like this one. it reminds me of my high school days when i get to see our own chairs stacked like that.

Sherry Stewart said...

The heart of this artist is exquisite in appreciation of variety of life..