The group show entitled Vessels featuring Filipino artists is held at VT Art Salon in Taipei. The show features works of Veejay Villafranca, Henrielle Pagkaliwangan, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Mark Justiniani and Diokno Pasilan and is curated by Patrick Flores.
For art historian/curator Patrick Flores, vessel has two meanings: a ship that goes over or across the water, and a container that holds water.
Veejay Villafranca, a documentary photographer based in Manila, documents the rituals in Siquijor, a province in the Philippines, known for its witchcraft. This project spans over six years in the making. Most of these practices happen year round and once published on the news, these pagan practices were deemed as scandalous for a nation of people who are 90% Catholics. For Villafranca, his pictures are not only about observing these practices and daily lives of the locals, but also about documenting their identity.
Diokno Pasilan was born to a family of builders in Palawan. He moved to Perth, Australia. His works delve into the place, movement, migration, and home. In this exhibit, his works show faces of people printed on each boat hanging on the wall. The pictures of these people are from a previous project wherein Pasilan made ID photos of local villagers.
Artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan’s work Jeepney is forceful. The piece seems to be coming from the jeepney, a common public transportation in the Philippines. What’s interesting is the text on the jeepney: Kamikaze, a Japanese word which means a Japanese aircraft that makes a deliberate suicidal crash on an enemy target. In history, the Philippines was reclaimed by the US forces from the Japanese during Japanese occupation.
To play along the meaning of vessel, we also see it as a container. Henrielle Pagkaliwangan did her residency in Negros during the harvest season. Negros is the number one in the sugar industry. In Negros, she did her research on families who became wealthy from sugar plantation. She stayed at an ancestral house of Tana Dikang, the matriarch of an affluent family known for their sugarcane plantation. The house is a well-preserved house museum. Inspired by their hardware business which has catalogues and inventories, Henrielle did a catalogue-like work that documents all the furniture in the house. There are a total of 17 rooms. For her, using illustration as her medium, she aims to document everyday mundane objects because they show preferences and how people live. Henrielle is also inspired by scientific illustrations. For her, a collection of things has a stronger narrative.
In a video installation, Ian Athfield won the competition entitled Dagat-dagatan in which he designed the lay-out of relocation site for residents of Tondo, an overpopulated area in Manila. However, the project didn’t push through. In this exhibit, a video installation which shows the architect’s layouts and designs is shown from the archives.
In this work from Mark Justiniani, the narrative of Rizal’s execution has been repetitive in history, hence it has become a production of fiction, a work of fiction, a dreamscape.
Taiwan also has a history of migration. When Chiang Kai-Shek’s forces moved to Taipei after the Second World War, many Chinese tried many ways to fit in and become “Taiwanese”. For many people in Taipei, they don’t really feel like they’re from Taipei. In this exhibit, the artist Deng Zhan Min bought a red sofa and a floor lamp from IKEA and put a collection of short stories on the sofa. The collection of short stories is about people in Taipei and the artist copied the stories word for word, knowing that by copying each word he can call the words as his won and this pursuit becomes personal.