And the World Thickens with Texture Instead of History is a collaboration between Christian Tablazon, Nomina Nuda, and NCCA Gallery.
Curated by Shireen Seno and comprised of multichannel video and mixed media installations, Tablazon’s solo exhibition employs found landscapes, mise-en-scène curios, and swatches of grain and patina from the movies of cultural icon Fernando Poe Jr. in the local pirate DVD market, building on these digital objects and debris as both raw material and artefactual record.
Other than foregrounding the nomadic loner and knight-errant tropes evident in FPJ’s cinema and insinuating appropriations and parallels in the gunslinger and the Frontier, whose thematics are inextricable from the wilderness and desolate terrain, these images arrest the said spaces in their diegetic course and re-present these sections as semantically charged zones and potent states of spectral remanence that can be deployed and exhausted in lieu of event. The hero’s body as the locus of identification and subjectivity disappears, paving the way for a place to invoke what is absent. The ensuing silent, meditative, and presumably static imagery not only poses a stark contrast to its source genre and context but also designates an elegiac, metatextual dimension to its surfaces, and projects a sense of past in the dispersed images of substandard, pirated copies, and invokes a look of loss in which memory is texturized visually, the traces of the past materialized in the decay of the screen image.
As studies in erasure, the videos and objects in this exhibitionrework extracts from pirate FPJ movies to deconstruct notions of cinematic presence and the iconic, and explore the paradoxical role of the video-piracy industry as a mode of commemoration and archive. The effacement of the national superstar to privilege place, leave in its place a temporal continuum embodied most proficiently by the landscape—“the nerve centre of our personal and collective memories” (Schama), and whose digital figuration in this project becomes a metered fluctuation of pixels, graphic erosion from generation loss, and minute details that constitute the shifting structures and ecologies of the scenery. The iconic hero is rendered perpetually absent from the picture, if not merely dwarfed and overtaken by the landscape—alone and seemingly exiled, lost in an aimless wandering. Shots, where FPJ is dodging bullets during exchanges of gunfire, are also extracted from these pirate DVDs and then accumulated, slowed down, muted, and spliced together into a gradual montage wherein FPJ becomes forever absent or invisible. We only see the space, structures, and silent billows of smoke, as if the hero is an illusionist caught in a recurring and endless vanishing act. These in-between shots are taken out of their hyper-masculinized context, and the icon is reduced into graceful apparitions of smoke and light, the violent and ballistic made almost phantasmic, if not poignantly elegiac.
Tablazon works with moving image and other photo-based media, text, and, installation. He is a recipient of several national fellowships in cultural criticism, and his works have been published and exhibited in 14 countries. He runs Nomina Nuda, a small nonprofit independent platform and alternative exhibition space in Los Baños, Laguna, and works as a resident instructor and program coordinator at the Philippine High School for the Arts.
Shireen Seno is a lens-based artist and filmmaker and a 2018 recipient of the 13 Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Her photobook Trunks, produced while in residency at Objectifs Centre for Photography and Filmmaking, has been exhibited widely and is in the collection of the Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive. Her first film, Big Boy (2012), won Best First Film at the Festival de Cine Lima Independiente. Nervous Translation (2018), her second film, won several awards and screened at MoMA as part of New Directors/New Films and at the Tate Modern as part of their Artists’ Cinema programme. She is a member of the collective Tito & Tita and curates for Los Otros—a studio, film lab, library, and platform dedicated to the intersections of film and art.
And the World Thickens with Texture Instead of History opens at 4 PM on November 8, 2018, at the NCCA Gallery, 633 General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila. The exhibition will be on view Mondays to Sundays from 9 AM to 6 PM until November 29. Admission is free. For inquiries, you may reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 527 2207. ADMISSION IS FREE.
*The title is originally a line in the poem “The Geese” by Jorie Graham, from her book Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (1980).