For Filipino art historian/curator Patrick Flores, the word 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 and stories of supernatural creatures. This project spans over six years in the making. Most of these practices happen year round and once published on the news, they are deemed 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.
The artist couple Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan presents Jeepney, a jeepney windshield from the Jeepney Series. Jeepney is the most common public transportation in the Philippines known for its kitsch decorations and crowded seating and its origins as a military jeep used by the Americans. What’s interesting is the text on the jeepney windshield: 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.
Henrielle Pagkaliwangan did her residency in Negros during the harvest season. Negros is the number one in the sugar industry in the Philippines. 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. 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.
New Zealand architect 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. This video installation shows the architect’s layouts and designs for the project.
Jose Rizal is the Philippines’ national hero executed by the Spanish government for his provocative writings which sparked the Philippine Revolution. The narrative of Rizal’s execution has become repetitive in history, hence it has become a production of fiction, a work of fiction, a dreamscape, as shown in Mark Justiniani’s work.
Taiwan also has a history of migration. When Chiang Kai-Shek’s forces moved to Taipei after the Second World War, many Chinese from the Mainland tried many ways to fit in and become “Taiwanese”. In this exhibit, 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 own, thus making it even more personal.
The group show entitled Vessels is held at VT Art Salon in Taipei from 18 March to 15 April. The show is curated by Patrick Flores.