Mideo Cruz’s solo exhibition “Unfairy Tales” is on view from June 10 to July 5 at the NCCA Gallery.

By Lisa Ito

You are stepping into a space populated by strange icons.

unfairy tales mideo cruz

Here, shelves are weighed with composite figures: assembled from toys and things that have seen better days, or harmless hours of play. Hung on the walls are found paintings by unknown artists, salvaged and modified by its irreverent collector. Arranged on the floor are salvaged dental casts, a midden of mouths agape.

This surreal pastiche of objects comprising Mideo M. Cruz’s solo exhibition, Unfairy Tales, operates on an impulse beyond whimsy, through a method beyond mad fumblings, and across a longer, more committed duration within the artist’s own history.

Cruz started producing hybrid idols ten years ago, first for a solo show titled Deities (2010, Galleria Duemila) and quietly pursued this series alongside other installation, performance, and painting projects. His process of collection remains constant across the decade: salvaging materials from his immediate ecology, in nearby spaces of surplus production that dotting this country tied to manufactured imports. Cruz picks up the discards of global excess: objects found in Japan surplus goods stores, sidewalk stalls, and public markets both in rural Gapan and urban Taguig.

Whatever their final configuration, each assemblage is inflected with the symbolic traumas of the colonial past: Spanish religious iconography, American pop culture souvenirs, orientalist tropes. Any trace of the indigene recedes; one can almost map the networks of global centers and postcolonial spaces across which this entire economy of goods originates.

Salvaged from obsolescence and reassembled as defamiliarized icons, Cruz’s assemblages open up space to revisit the logic of global production and the fantasy of consumption. Unlike sacral spaces, the gallery setting does not offer us any promise of real world redemption. But—in reflecting how the very history of Capital within the postcolony yields tales where endings are often not magical, ideal, or happy—it aids in offering a safe space for ruder awakenings to unfold.

“Unfairy Tales” is on view from June 10 to July 5 at the NCCA Gallery.

The NCCA Gallery is at 633 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, Manila (at the back of San Agustin Church) and is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.  For inquiries, please call the secretariat at 527-2192 local 324 & 328 or email: gallery@ncca.gov.phnccagallery09@gmail.com.