two art shows I’m in

Oops. Had a couple shows last week. Forgot to mention earlier.

(Well, I was in the Doldrums. Sometimes these things happen there.)

I had two openings last Thursday evening for two exhibitions that my work is in: one was To Hedonopolis, From Melancolony, curated by Rico Reyes, at USF’s Thacher Art Gallery, the other was The Big Ideas Project: Three Views, organized by Cicely Sweed and Joel Tan, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The openings overlapped slightly, and were across town from each other, which made things a little interesting in the shuttling process.

Rico selected four of the paintings from my Point of Departure series. I had handed off the work to him well before I even left for the Philippines: one of the marvelous things about A, group shows, and B, having a larger body of work these days, is that it’s not always excruciatingly painful amounts of last-minute work before a show anymore. (I reserve the right to have excruciatingly painful installations at any point in the future, however.) I got to just show up for the opening, mix with folks, and eat yummy reception food.

Rico, by the way, is off to Goldsmiths College in the UK any minute now! He’ll be kicking butts and taking names in the Cultural Studies PhD program there. Good luck, Rico! Clear some floor space for me to crash on, kid.

The Yerba Buena opening was a little awkward, since I had to get there a bit late: the opening itself was lovely, festive and well-attended, and the folks there hosted a really fun, lively reception. I was one of three artists selected to create year-long installations in the Room for Big Ideas downstairs. The tricky part about the opening was that my work doesn’t actually install in earnest until 2008. Four more Point of Departure paintings are in the RBI, as place-holders of sorts. And so, since I haven’t really installed yet, I didn’t think to invite anyone!

Anyway, for your amusement, here’s the original, primitive mock-up for what’s in YBCA now. I haven’t been able to swing by during the day to take a proper picture, but it looks similar. Below the image is what I am planning to do, in conjunction with the Identity Shifts programming in early 2008: read at your peril. Secrets will be given away. TMI on the RBI alert…


the original proposal:

In August 2007, my section of RBI (Room for Big Ideas) will be minimal: walls painted a pale avocado-esque green, four small, framed paintings hung. The images are simple and meditative, and will allow the preceding installations by Ali Dadgar and Derick Ion more focus and breathing room. The agreement was that each of us will take turns fleshing out our installations over time. Ali will go first, with both Derick and I keeping our sections minimal, followed by Derick (Ali will recede his installation a bit), then myself (Derick will recede his installation, as well).

The framed paintings are part of a larger project on Filipina nursing and immigration that I’ve been working on. The green fruit-like geometric form in each of them is a stylized durian (a Southeast Asian fruit known for its spiky exterior, fleshy interior, and perversely pungent aroma). The durian functions as a sort of vas hermeticum, a sealed form suggesting an overseas contract worker’s tropical roots, his/her conspicuity in an institutionalized, homogenized environment, a vessel for containment and transference, and a sort of ominous self-protection. The file folders in two of the images suggest institutionalized record-keeping, and archived private information.

Painting the walls a pale green suggests a couple of things: calming, verdant space, a fertile site for growth, but also conversely a sort institutionalized sterility, like a hospital’s mint-green walls. Color, but controlled and systematized. The simple relationship between the paintings and the wall color is intended to imply both complements and contradictions.

When it comes time to fully install in conjunction with the “Identity Shifts” programming in 2008, the framed paintings will be reorganized on the wall along with a number of new elements. I’ll contribute a combination of images painted directly on the wall, some additional paintings/drawings on paper, and vinyl design elements, all contributing further to a sense of liminality, negotiation, and border-zone.

teaser wall-text that’s in the RBI now:

My project for the Room for Big Ideas corresponds to the ideas and generative questions put forth by YBCA’s spring 2008 programming for the Big Idea “Identity Shifts”. It starts quietly and minimally in summer 2007, and then builds into a fully-realized installation in spring 2008.

The fluid, negotiable terrain of identity has been the site of enormous possibility and opportunity, and well as confrontation and contestation. Lines get drawn around gender, class, race, and any number of other affiliations, but these lines are now extremely wobbly, if not out and out blurry.

I address these tensions in the Room for Big Ideas, starting from a feeling of displacement, and then developing into a more complex meditation on liminality, need, and place. My installation functions as a sort of border-zone, situated in the space of feminized overseas contract labor. It is an extension of a long-term project I’ve begun exploring Filipina nursing and immigration narratives. I’m generally interested in quiet, but frictive, space: this room will eventually become the site for images that are meditative, interior, imaginative and political.

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