Over Rizal, Monuments to a Hero had all the makings of superficiality. After all, in light of Jose Rizal’s sesquicentennial his monuments seem like the most flimsy of subjects; in light of the more important question of his continued relevance, this exhibit risked the possibility of being absolutely irrelevant.
But there was more here than just photos of Rizal statues, and while the curatorial note speaks of memory and remembering, the sheer number of these monuments across the country surprisingly reminds of a predisposition to forget, where archetypes end up meaning nothing, and portrayals of heroes are but one-dimensional representations.
What Over Rizal reveals is that at some point archetypes can turn out to be real and one-dimensionality can become a foregone conclusion. These photos taken together might in fact give the more discerning spectator a sense of the kind of narrative we collectively build as a nation about Rizal, even and precisely on the level of the seemingly harmless monument.