it was the start of the year and after this boycott of Manila Contemporary i welcomed the chance to go back. but of course i did just in time for another non-exhibit, i.e., it’s that time of year when the works from the stockroom / backroom, the ones waiting to be sold, are hung on gallery walls. at least this time it was clear. and this time there were works worth talking about. well one work that i can’t pass up.
Ronald Caringal’s “Status / Hiatus” is a canvas filled with the face of a girl, up close, hair framing her face, eyes looking beyond the spectator, mouth agape. on its own the image is surprisingly pregnant with possibility: between a questioning look and surprise, before tears and in the midst of distress, a huge breath being taken, an exhale maybe? that it exists with an LED light scroll with bright red words on loop allows for a bigger scope of possibility for this image.
(no, that missing “r” before “elationship” was not intentional, heh.) that the standard legal civil statuses, with the societal requirement of a relationship in between, are layered with how that image remains the same regardless, is a statement in itself ain’t it. but there is too, the now FB-labelled possibility:
for which that image still works eh? and where this work becomes almost like a meta-status, one that is critical of the old and new in the labels that we keep, where the work becomes criticism against precisely the notion that these labels stand for our online images. where irony is not the point as it is the fact that none of those images are real, and half the time it has nothing to do with the statuses we put up: the point is a public face, put up alongside a public status. that point is put into question when that public face is always the same, frozen in mid-sentence maybe, if not mid-thought, but makes no sound and has no voice. the image and the status, both.
and then Caringal hits you with weariness and hope. and you can’t but believe in the love that’s still possible here: even as we remain the same, even as the labels change. and too, maybe it’s just this: looking as static as it does, it is in mid-thought | mid-act | just in between. that should be good enough.