There are many things that characterize Philippine history: our experiences with colonialism, our myths and legends, the ways we deal with memory. These aspects of our culture are a big part of what makes us Filipino, but considering all the crazy stuff we have to deal with on the daily — the absurdity of our political situation notwithstanding — it’s easy to forget that we share these stories with other parts of Southeast Asia as well.
This is where “Ties of History: Art in Southeast Asia” comes in. It’s an ambitious exhibit that aims to reveal the cultural and historical threads that run through Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and of course, home sweet home. In this exhibit, various artists have been gathered from all these countries to showcase their art, in the hopes of forming a cohesive but complex narrative that richly describes the Southeast Asian experience. A diverse set of mediums is showcased as well. It’s not just paintings, but sculptures, videos, photographs, and even soundscapes you’ll find in this exhibit.
“Ties of History: Art in Southeast Asia” is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the Yuchengco Museum, and the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum until Oct. 6, 2018.
According to acclaimed curator Patrick Flores, the political importance of this exhibit comes from the way these artists, with their different subject positions and cultural backgrounds, respond to what’s around them. “Expression comes from how the artist responds to the world. And the artist responds to the world in many ways,” he says. Take for example Filipino artist Roberto Feleo, whose sculptures, which utilize unconventional materials like sawdust, tackle the ways we approach mythology. There’s also Amanda Heng from Singapore who constantly tackles the way she as a female artist engages and battles the patriarchy.
To make all this good art as accessible as possible, “Ties of History” is being held at three different venues: the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the Yuchengco Museum, and the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum. No matter where you are in this dense and hard-to-navigate city, it should be relatively easy for you to hit this exhibit up. And you should. What with all the crazy stuff happening in the country today, it’s good to be reminded that at least geopolitically and historically, we aren’t alone in our experiences. Contemporary art has that kind of power.
“Ties of History: Art in Southeast Asia” is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the Yuchengco Museum, and the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum. The exhibit runs until Oct. 6, 2018. For more details, visit the official Facebook page of the project.