“Morbus” is an exhibition featuring Ritche Yee, Paul Hilario, Jett Ilagan, Marvin Oloris, Sayid Cedicol, Niko Cedicol, and Bong Salazar. Laya Boquiren curates the exhibit for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under the institution’s Exhibition Grants Program. Morbus is set to launch on Thursday, 4pm August 4, 2022, at the NCCA Gallery in Intramuros, Manila, and will be open to the public from August 5 to 31.

Curator Laya Boquiren says of the art exhibition: 

“Morbus explores various conceptual tenors around the idea of diseases such as the discomfort and ills in our bodies, cities, and nation so that we may explore ways to mitigate and arrest the Morbus that debilitates us, ruminate on the ways we can strengthen our collective immunity, and generate conversations on healing.”

The featured artists are mostly founding members of MakiSining, a collective whose birthplace or artistic practice is located in cities and towns around Mount Makiling. The experience of the place immerses each artist in the intersections of art, science, and cultural work, all nurtured by Makiling. The artists collaborating on this exhibition are conversant and intimately immersed in the fields of Medicine, Biology, Public Management and Public Service, Multimedia Design, and Civil Engineering. The group was founded to create a network of mutual support and encourage fellow artists and cultural workers to empower each other’s practice in the service of society. In addition, their extensive areas of practice outside the disciplinary domain of art allow them to offer diverse perspectives on the concept of affliction. 

The artists dared to experiment for this NCCA-enabled exhibition. 

To illustrate, Paul Hilario, primarily a painter whose works have circulated all over the United States and Europe, embarks on installation work utilizing old hospital equipment, evoking the image of a patient wasting away from an incurable ailment. 

As a sound artist, Jett Ilagan composes a paper-based work for the exhibition “Morbus” but still uses sound in space as a conceptual anchor. Concerning his piece, he says, “the physical design of our cities in lockdown and intimate spaces play an inevitable role in composing our everyday rhythms.” 

Meanwhile, Marvin Oloris, or “MARO,” is a practicing designer and contractor of architectural houses and structures. For the exhibit, he uses the image of blueprints in his work as a subtle social commentary. 

Boquiren further reflects on each artist’s work.:

“Ritche Yee, consistent with his artistic direction and unique choice of industrial materials, shows corrosion and decay in his work. This means that the work is affected by atmospheric conditions and is therefore invested with determinants such as time in relation to events. In addition, his works demonstrate the potency of using industrial materials identified with post-aesthetic conceptualist approaches in art as vehicles for dissent.” 

“Brothers Sayid and Niko Cedicol are both doctors, the former working in military conflict areas and the other a community doctor. “The thematics of their works are often located in the intersections of public policy, health systems, access to healthcare, and conflict in communities.” 

Bong Salazar’s painting, depicting cancer and healing, can be interpreted in multiple ways. His work is complemented by a symbolic healing ritual, his performance piece at the exhibition’s opening reception. 

Since 2009, the NCCA, true to its mandate, has been offering an exhibition platform allowing artists from the regions to push their artistic boundaries without curtailing creative exploration and expression. In addition, the government provides all the curatorial support services for free.

NCCA Gallery Hours are Mondays to Thursdays, 9:00AM – 6:00PM, Fridays & Saturdays, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Under Alert Level 1, the NCCA Gallery is open for walk-in, fully-vaccinated visitors. Vaccination cards shall be checked. Unvaccinated minors will be allowed to enter but must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated individual. Check the NCCA official Facebook page for any changes in Alert Level restrictions. For more information, call – (02) 8527 2205, or email – gallery@ncca.gov.ph. For updates about the exhibition: https://www.facebook.com/Morbusproject