Friday, June 1, 2012

City is a space of habit

Cities form habits. Habits are formed in cities. 

installation at Artinformal with works by Tam Wai Ping, Jaffa Lam,
Michael Lee (&Bob Matthews), Ho Siu-Kee and Anton del Castillo


Urich Lau presenting his portfolio

we make conversation a habit (with Project Glocal artists)

To debate on whether it is the city that forms habits or it is the city-zen* who makes habits is a chicken-and-egg showdown. It may be true that men created cities to their own like-ness (or to how they like it); it may also be true that men transforms into a likeness (or being) that s/he see fit to become or continue to be a city-zen.

This Project Glocal satellite show at Artinformal challenges the curator, artists and audience to engage in a conversation that explores the many facets of city habits. This is taking off from an agreement that habitation in the city breeds attitude, ethos, superstitions, choices, etc. that are engendered in city dwelling.

In an attempt to respond to this particular urban talking point, we peeked into city-zen’s evidence of habits—its forms, manifestations, occasions and paraphernalia. The exhibit then shows the artists definitions of city, habit and city-habits. 

Thosapol Boriboon’s Hush Series is a reflection on the many attempts of man to find his own place in a space, such as the city, viz-a-viz the habit of moving or being elsewhere.  This series was made after the artist’s return to Bangkok after his residency in China, the same time when the great floods of Thailand happened in 2011.

Anton del Castillo’s Warning Red Tag borders as a commentary on retail therapy, shopping, shopaholism and/or object centrism as a city habit.  The artist utilized a play-learn device “connect-the-dots” to complete his subtle statement.

Mideo Cruz’s Alter Ego  peeks into mass media and its ability to create, invent, subscribe, brand and brandish icon and the iconic.

Siu-Kee Ho’s Habitual Act animates the expression “going around circle”.  His bronze figure travels around a patch of earth while (probably) assuming that he is in an actual journey from point A toB.

Choon Lin Joo’s The Beat of the City That Freezed prophesizes how city refuse and rubbish can be or can make a real monster—somewhat apocalyptic disguised as amusing or even “cute”.

Preeyachanok Ketsuwan’s twin frame from the series L (lost) O(over) V(vacuous) and E(error) attempts to bring the human back in the city, where emotion, tenderness and comfort were represented by touch—one that is palpable and visceral.

Ruthairat Kumsrichan’s Grandmother and Grandfather are pieces of nostalgia for what is safe and nurturing amidst and beyond the hard surface of the city.  The tenderness of the subject was however questioned by the techniques chosen by the artist—painstaking needle work used to scratch the ink on paper and sewing swatches on the trapunto.

Irma Lacorte’s De Lata snaps a picture of the remains of city dwelling. The artist chooses to show how these remains crowd its own kind, building a constellation of sort.

Jaffa Lam’s Rootless Bonsai utilized abandoned objects and organic materials. Instead of calling them found (as in found objects), the artist emphasized the relationship of the source of her materials to the rootlessness of her bonsai, both grew without knowing or having roots, much like many things in a city.

Urich Lau’s Life Circuit Document is a video scribble of cables, LCDs, LEDs, ICs and a man with or in them; much how like how men are in his affairs with the electronically driven city. 

Michael Lee (with Bob Matthews)’s Documents of Contemporary Slumber, Losing Everyone and Valuing Everything and Movement in Love, Care & Hope from the series The Great Levellers dwells on personal utopias like nap time, taking a leave and making a mark.

Vichaya Mukdamanee’s Inspiration from Re-Configuration deconstructs the relationship of man to objects; placing them both in a moment of agility and aggression.

Mark Salvatus’s Periodico illustrates how a reader could talk back to what is read. While newspapers are devices of history that chronicles what happened when, the artist’s graffiti on the broadsheet pages are incongruous and incognito, but nonetheless incorporated.

Wai Ping Tam’s Dream captured the city-zen when they are technically non-city-zens.  Asleep, behind locked doors, beneath their private dwellings. Do they cease to form habits?

Ling Nah Tang’s Ophelia and Glocal Sketch are spaces disguised as immobile but bares strong feel of human presence if not actually habitation.

Kwok Hin Tang’s Spiralling Ships is a play of how one can capture a moment and keep it still, no matter how unachievable or unreal; such a sentiment is common with people in constant movement because it was necessary. 

Mimi Tecson’s Athazagoraphobia (Fear of Forgetting) manifests a feeling of captivity, of holding oneself captive by the present or memories. Despite the adornment, the cage proves to be restrictive and discontent ascertained.

Warawut Tourawong’s Scissors kept the human hidden while highlighting the object and entitling it to have its own play with the space it exists.

Wesley Valenzuela Through the Looking Glass tackles the inherent ability of man to transform amidst a constantly changing environment.

Esther Lai Man Yip’s Folding HongKong is optimism manifested in a sculpture.  The artist made the cityscape fold into a "sheng" , which means to survive or to make it; essentially claiming that “when all else fail, man will still survive.”

Francis Yu’s Fortune anticipates change but as an element of opportunity that could lead to either success or failure. Finding fortune, among other things, is a famous city habit.

As this exhibit attempts to capture a slice of “a” or “the” city—its habits and its habit makers—the question remains: is there such as thing as glocal when it comes to habits? And again, how glocal are we?
HABIT FORMING is the second satellite show of Project Glocal 2012 initiated and curated by Dayang Yraola.  Participated by the following artists: Anton del Castillo/ Black Baroque Committee/ Bundith Phunsombatlert/ Choon Lin Joo/ Esther Yip Lai Man/ Francis Yu/ Irma Lacorte/ Jaffa Lam/ Urich Lau/ Jason Wee/ Jittagarn Kaewtinkoy/ Kwok Hin Tang/ Ling Nah Tang/ Lukas Tam Wai Ping/ Luke Ching/ Mark Salvatus/ Michael Lee/ Mideo Cruz/ Mimi Tecson/ Preeyachanok Ketsuwan/ Riel Hilario/ Ruthairat Kumsrichan/ Siu-Kee Ho/SongMing Ang/ Thosapol Boriboon/ Vichaya Mukdamanee/ Wantanee Siripattananuntaku/ Warawut Tourawong/ Wesley Valenzuela.

*City-zen is a term coined to refer to residents of cities. This includes: permanent residents (those who live and do business in the cities); temporary residents (like students and those who do business in cities but live elsewhere) or transient (those in transport or mobile business); residents by default (those who were brought by parents and/or spouses in cities); and informal settlers (squatters), among others. City includes: cosmopolitan CDB level cities; “the old” city; and the fringe cities (like UP Campus or Eastwood where an inbred culture is maintained if not actually nourished).

**The title assigned by Riel Hilario (also a Project Glocal-Manila artist) for the first satellite show of Project Glocal held at Tin-aw Gallery in January 2012. This term is now being used in Project Glocal to refer to round-table discussion, forum, artists talk, meetings and other form of exchange of ideas, opinion and questions between the Project Glocal participants and its audience.