Uploaded October 13, 2018
What about The Memory Maker's Boudoir?
a prompt by Jojo Soria de Veyra
THE Memory Maker’s Boudoir is purportedly going to be the name of the main exhibit at the ManilArt fair at the SM Aura Premier, which shall start this October 17. It is therefore the one to watch with expectations. It will supposedly be launched via a performance art by a female performer (Janella Ibay) representing the Goddess of Memory, otherwise portraying simply The Artist as Daughter (in her case) of the Goddess Mnemosyne.
(This) could actually be carrying quite a timely statement, being situated in our history-deficient era of sheer nowness.
poster for the show
Strictly speaking, a boudoir is a woman’s sitting room in a grand house. That should be an appropriate setting for referencing a respite (a much-needed location for both sulking and then remembering), appropriate since the exhibition guide we got to preview keeps mentioning not a nameless girlfriend or boyfriend from the past but a royal presence, viz., the divine goddess of memory, Mnemosyne herself of the Grand House of Titans.
This show could actually be carrying quite a timely statement, being situated in our history-deficient era of sheer nowness. Note, too, that the curator and the artists in the exhibition would be calling on a divine presence other than the bastardized name of Jesus of the Christian hegemony, as if to assert an urgent need for a goddess of memory’s probably-better intervention in our desperate age.
(What) ought the Artist of today be? Ought he be a mere designer of patterns? Or ought he also be historian, allegorist, and predictor? Ought he to be a mere fear-monger of dark imagery, or must he also be an oracle reader of potential bright paths? Ought he to be mere destroyer of the status quo’s manifestations of power, or, worse, destroyer of the idea of existence after a bout of existential depression, or ought he be creator, too, of empowering visions?
True, this curatorial act could allude to a way of approaching a political reality in our present. But could it perhaps also be a reaction to contemporary Philippine art’s having been bowdlerized to the level of expensive décor? After all, according to Hesiod’s Theogony, Mnemosyne is also the inventor or inspirer of language, and perhaps also of science (via one of her daughters, Urania, the muse of astronomy). Bear in mind, too, that Mnemosyne was considered a Titan by the ancient Greeks, telling us how importantly these ancients deemed memory and history, or how they considered it dangerous for a people not to stray at all from the decadent experiencing of the mere present.
Additionally, if Mnemosyne has always been concerned with the past and the present’s progressing time, it should totally make sense that She would also be into oracles concerning the future, wouldn’t it? Thus, it makes total sense that She presided over the underground oracle of Trophonius in Boeotia, doesn’t it?
So, the curation of this show would weave together the narrative of Mnemosyne as goddess of memory and of the occult (via Trophonius) and then attach that compound to the veracities and verifications of progressing science (including Urania’s astronomy and cosmology). The brew would thenceforth be complete. Complex, yes, but complete.
Now, coursing this supra-compound of investigations (looking into an amalgam of relationships) through a visual and performance medium, the exhibition would end up ultimately, or consequently, asking this question: what ought the Artist of today be? Ought he be a mere designer of patterns? Or ought he also be historian, allegorist, and predictor? Ought he to be a mere fear-monger of dark imagery, or must he also be an oracle reader of potential bright paths? Ought he to be mere destroyer of the status quo’s manifestations of power, or, worse, destroyer of the idea of existence after a bout of existential depression, or ought he be creator, too, of empowering visions? Ought his studio be a memory maker’s boudoir, instead, for sulking and then remembering and then looking forward to a dream future?
Speaking of visions, the chief curator of this show is the artist Gromyko Semper, who, it may please you to know, has been labelling himself through the years as a visionary artist—that knowledge should let us read an additional context to the phrase “memory maker” in the show’s title. After all, don’t visionary artists make it their mission to create experiences from ultra- or meta-realities as glimpses into alternative universes within and without our universe? It should interest us that, with this show, Semper is attaching his visionary self to the cult of Mnemosyne, as if to make it clear that he is concerned both with ultra-realities (which may include all scientific theories in this category) as well as with the perceived realities of the past and the present. In short, he is putting himself in a position of resistance to a possible dangerous tag on his person as creator of alternative histories, or fake histories, as vehicles for escaping the here and now. In this show of his, science’s histories and the visions of the occult converge to postulate a more holistic holism; in popular media terms this is like inhabiting the world of the political analyst trained in history and the social sciences, but influenced, too, by, say, the warnings of the I Ching.
It makes additional sense, then, that Semper would refer to the Sefirot as another inspiration, being one among those plans that marry the conscious and the unconscious, or the known and the yet unknown:
The show would supposedly use a Sefirot-inspired pattern as expanded stand-in for Mnemosyne’s daughters (and sons, in this show’s case). From this Sefirotish pattern of aspects the show shall proceed thus: opening with a one-of-a-kind dress and performance by Ibay, the show would thereafter present, among others, works including three paintings about the Void by Cozythrias, a video projection and installation about the Earth by Ali Alejandro, three paintings about Humanity by Kat Malazarte, a collaborative work about the Flora including three paintings by Semper and three sculptures by Herminio Tan, three sculptures and a painting about Mythology by Isobel Francisco and Angelo Padilla, one monumental sculpture about Time and Space by Padilla, three paintings about Politics by Ben John Lincod, three paintings about the Fauna by Rachel Anne Lacaba, three paintings about Culture by Ginoe Ojoy, three paintings about Fashion by JC Peñaflorida, three sculptures about Science and Technology by Maria Magdamit, and three paintings about the Spiritual and the Transcendent by Roman Padilla.
There you go. So, don’t forget to catch the show at the ManilArt at SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City, on October 17, 2018, at 6:00 pm sharp. Don’t be Lethe! [d]
Cozythrias, Moment, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 36" (photo by Chino R. Hernandez for Lifestyle Asia)
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