An Industrial Wonderland

It starts with that haunting tune. You enter the gallery and it sucks you in, into some sort of industrial Wonderland where everything is an alternate of what you know and believe in. You hear the hypnotic music from DJ Spooky’s video installation and you forget everything else.
“A crayon sketch of Leonor Rivera drawn by José Rizal taken from Wikipedia” by Patrick Cruz. Screenshot, Xerox Paper. Dimensions variable.
Collage Drop Outs is an art exhibit that features pieces from established artists in the Philippines, Singapore, Canada, and the US. It is a collection of works that aims to explore and question orthodox and unorthodox ways in addressing theme, imagery, style and material by putting together artists who have unique practices. This is a conscious choice by the curators, Mariano Ching and Isabel Ching. “We’re not really following what we were taught in college about collage. Many of these artists are not known for doing traditional collages.” While collage brings to mind high school notebooks with cutouts of images and mantras from magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan, Collage Drop Outs is mature, intelligent, and beautiful.
“Antarctica Manifesto / Antarctica Treaty” by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid. Digital print on paper. 2’ x 3’ each.

The name Collage Drop Outs itself is a play on words. Mariano and Isabel chose it because the idea of a dropout is closer to counter-culture. It is subversive and rebellious, with a self-deprecating twist that makes it humble. Also, because the name sounded funny. On the surface, it is witty and attracts attention, but is steeped with meaning. Much like the exhibit pieces.

“Let’s Talk About Everything” by Izziyana Suhaimi. Embroidery on found materials, wooden embroidery hoops and gold thread. Variable dimensions.
Exploring the exhibit is like exploring Wonderland. Every visitor feels like Alice as she digs into a dimension where every place is as different as the last and to find the real meaning of everything would only confuse even more. Taking collage as a departure point, the 11 artists considered the relevance of collage to their respective practices. The group of artists is also a collage, a collage of nationalities, perspective, and practices with fresh takes on the theme, but there was an underlying dialogue that made the exhibit coherent. The curators have invited underground filmmaker and cartoonist Roxlee, installation artists Felix Bacolor and Juan Alcazaren, musician DJ Spooky, and equally renowned artists such as Zeus Bascon, Patrick Cruz, Eugene Jarque, Rafeeza Khaliq, Romeo Lee, Izziyana Suhaimi, and Mac Valdezco.
Dust” and “Mold” by Mac Valdezco. Acrylic and collage on canvas. 3’ x 4’
The curators themselves are celebrated. Isabel Ching, a noted curator, has set up countless exhibits in Singapore and Hong Kong, and has worked with at least 30 artists including multi-awarded painters Louie Cordero and Poklong Anading. Mariano Ching is a member of the Surrounded by Water Art Group and his works have been recognized by art groups, and he was awarded the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artists Award in 2006. His works have been exhibited here and abroad, and some of his pieces belong to art collections in the Singapore Art Museum. Despite the same last name, the two are not related.
“China Girl” and “Indian Head” by Felix Bacolor. Adhesive wallpaper, dimensions variable. Wallpaper sticker backing, masking tape, ladder, dimensions variable.
According to Mariano and Isabel, inviting the artists was both challenging and exciting. The challenge came from overseas artists who couldn’t guide the curators in installing their pieces, and working within the allotted budget. But the reward of working with really good artists paid off because the artists were open to how their works were going to be displayed and the exhibit went without a hitch.
“Good Night Collage Series 1-9” by Juan Alcazaren. Plastic. 15” x 11”

In the end, I had to tear myself away from the pieces because it was nearly closing. Throughout the exhibit I was mesmerized by DJ Spooky’s haunting tune and when I exited, I was awakened by the cold wind and the faint smell of lemons from the nearby Cantinetta. As I walked away, possibly suffering from Stendhal Syndrome, I swear I saw the Cheshire Cat up in a tree, grinning at me.

Collage Drop Outs is located at Finale Art File, Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound (Gate 1), Chino Roces Avenue, Makati and will be exhibited until December 31. The gallery is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10AM to 7PM. You may contact them at 813-2310 and 812-5034.

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