Friday ∗ 28 Sep 2012

historical significance? cultural capital!

What to do with Imelda’s embarrassment of riches

<…> when we think of the Marcos belongings and Imelda jewels, we think: what a shame. Instead of thinking: wow, this is a grand display of a time when local culture was celebrated to Imeldific delusional proportions. Wow, this is the people’s money, in the hands of the most powerful couple in the land, at the most oppressive of times. Wow, this is the work of the shoemakers of Marikina, the Filipino couturiers going crazy on the terno, the classic jewelry of international designers from the 70s.

It is these perspectives that might help in actually dealing with the vestiges of a violent and oppressive past. It is from here that we might go from thinking these to be nothing but historically insignificant symbols of the Marcos regime, towards imagining them to be the remains of an embarrassment of riches. Remains which we can earn from, and not just in terms of money, but in terms of a sense of history and culture, and in terms of asking questions crucial to the present.

The fact that these objects and jewelry, shoes and clothes, are an embarrassment of riches within its historical milieu, is the necessary context for exhibiting these for the public to see. But that is not a limitation, as it is the ground upon and against which we might allow for our art conservators and curators, our art scholars and researchers, to go to town with it. Provenance doesn’t stop with Imelda and Macoy as it will mean research into the history of each artifact, its making, its buying, its existence as part of the Marcos myth. It would be interesting to dig through old photographs, match jewelry to clothes, match the aesthetic to documented event, contextualize all of that in historical milieu. And obviously I mean nothing like the gold exhibit in the basement of the Metropolitan Museum, which is utterly and totally boring.

Instead I mean the promise of a new exhibit every three or four months, working in more of the jewelry that’s there, many of the artifacts. You do not have to come out with them in one grand exhibit – curators can have their pick based on the kind of exhibit they’re working with. Call on young curators (off the top of my head Angelo Suarez, J. Pacena II) and seasoned curators (Dr. Patrick Flores, Yeyey Cruz), even artists (Jose Tence Ruiz) and scholars (Dr. Brenda Fajardo), and ascertain exhibits that will always be exciting, not just because the jewels and artifacts are being seen for the first time, but because there is a present voice that takes us through their provenance, that demands giving us a sense of precisely why they are historically significant, why they are important to the present.

The possibilities are endless if we view it from the perspective of art exhibits and cultural production. The possibilities are endless if this government were open to the creativity of the art world, which has yet to be acknowledged as important. Allow our art world to take this on, and it will be a gift that will keep on giving. Throw those artifacts away and we’ve just wasted the kind of international media mileage the fact of its damage has gotten; auction those jewels and I tell you, the more enterprising of art buyers and collectors will buy the lot and exhibit it as Imelda’s jewels themselves.

read all of it here.

Posted in: arts and culture, bayan, gobyerno, komentaryo

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