Passages and the Future

Tabaimo's "Japanese Kitchen"

Tabaimo's "Japanese Kitchen"

It’s funny how when we think of a passage we often visualize a straight corridor. A clear unencumbered hallway that is easy to move in. At least, that is how I think it should be.

But “should” is a dangerous word, already poised for potential headaches and heartaches (hahaha, not really), especially when applied to something like the recent contemporary art exhibition titled, “Passage to the Future: Art from a New Generation in Japan” which opened at the mcad (Museum of Contemporary Art and Design) at the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, School of Design and Arts last July 7.

This particular passage wasn’t straightforward and simple, as we imagined it to be – bring the materials in, let the curator/s design the layout, supervise the installation, and open with a reception.  No, no, no. The universe will not let us down that easy.

Instead, this passage came with many twists and turns, sleep-hungry nights and more questions than one can really bear to answer.

 Still, what is important is that the exhibit opened successfully. Here is proof.

Bro. Victor Franco (DLS-CSB), Dir. Ben Suzuki (JFM) and Dir. Tomoko Dodo (JICC)

Bro. Victor Franco (DLS-CSB), Dir. Ben Suzuki (JFM) and Dir. Tomoko Dodo (JICC)

Bro. Victor Franco formally welcomes the guests to the mcad

Bro. Victor Franco formally welcomes the guests to the mcad

The start of the program as Mr. Suzuki introduces the exhibit and the performers.

The start of the program as Mr. Suzuki introduces the exhibit and the performers.

Sam performs his winning piece, "Which Way?"

Sam performs his winning piece, "Which Way?"

Shigemi sways

Shigemi sways

Shigemi suprises

Shigemi surprises

Shigemi and Sam together

Shigemi and Sam together

Shigemi and Sam open the exhibit and lead the guests through the gallery

Shigemi and Sam open the exhibit and lead the guests through the gallery

Shigemi and Sam interacting with the artworks

Shigemi and Sam interacting with the artworks

The guests by Atsushi Fukui's paintings

The guests by Atsushi Fukui's paintings

The works featured were all strong pieces, which sparked interest and a connection with the audiences. The video installation by Tomoyasu Murata was the most affecting work for me, as I became nostalgic about my childhood piano teacher. It doesn’t hurt too that the touching movie had a beautiful score which became my theme song of sorts during the exhibit installation.  

Tomoyasu Murata's Video Installation

Tomoyasu Murata's Video Installation

A quick run-through of the works and one can immediately say that they are all contemporary pieces – very advanced in their application of media. However, as pointed out in the catalogue, their creators all had a solid bond to the traditional way of doing things the Japanese way. It is the exquisiteness of a well-thought packaging of Japanese sweets, the polished veneer of an everyday bowl, the elegant restraint of well-placed stones in a garden. It is elevating the ordinary, mundane, personal everyday things like potted plants, clouds and plastic toys, into what we call art.

Masafumi Sanai's photos

Masafumi Sanai's photos

Miyuki Yokomizo's Soap Installation

Miyuki Yokomizo's Soap Installation

A former colleague, working in a national arts and culture institution, remarked that what she finds admirable in Japanese art is that the Japanese artist is no longer searching for an identity. Somehow, even without being obviously mindful of being Japanese, their attention to detail, the respect to their craft and the littlest things, almost always is a giveaway to the audience that not only is the artist a skilled artist , to the outside audience, he or she is a Japanese artist.
A wall of Nobuyuki Takahashi's paintings

A wall of Nobuyuki Takahashi's paintings

Satoshi Hirose's Beans Cosmos

Satoshi Hirose's Beans Cosmos

Hirose's Star Dust

Hirose's Star Dust

That’s such a nice thing to be associated with. On the other hand, Filipino artists (performing artists, at least) are known abroad to be musical, happy and friendly. Also a nice thing, but I digress.

Filipinos are familiar to this as it illustrates one of JoseRizal’s sayings, “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan, ay di makakarating sa paroroonan.” (Loosely interpreted, it means, one who does not look back to where he came from, will not get to where he would like to go.) If only we Filipinos can apply it to our daily lives…

Like undergoing labor pains (which lasted for 4 nights), this “passage” was complicated and finally was a relief, as soon as opened. And you have to see it because it is a beautiful “baby.”

Putting up this exhibit is credited to Chit Ramirez, who doesn’t fail to inspire with his energy and optimism. It is a given that he is a talented artist and curator, but what makes him brilliant, is his generosity and good nature. With Chit working throughout the night were Ms. Luisa Zaide and Belle of the mcad, and the SDA boys. They were essential and crucial to the smooth installation, all were very patient and cooperative – despite a demanding exhibit, schedule-wise and technically.

SDA Boys

SDA Boys

Belle of mcad, Chitz Ramirez, and Bambi Diaz of JFM

Belle of mcad, Chitz Ramirez, and Bambi Diaz of JFM

After this exhibit opened, I realized that although we all look to the future, working towards it, we all are also better off learning from lessons of the past.

My lesson? Work with light-hearted, hardworking committed people, who can elevate something mundane such as unpacking boxes and positioning ladders, hanging rods and painting walls into a wondrous work of art.

——–

Passage to the Future: Art from a New Generation in Japan is on exhibit at the mcad until August 7 (Friday).

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