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FIRST LOOK

Mark Justiniani digs into history, heroism for Art Fair PHL's 10 Days of Art


The pit. Photo: Mark Justiniani.
A simulation of the Malacañang Cabinet Room with an apparition of Andrés Bonifacio. Photo: Mark Justiniani.

 

Mark Justiniani impressed yet again at Art Fair Philippines 2016 when he installed artworks between two mirrors facing each other that spawned an endless replication of the works, casting a vanishing point in our vision.

A play on perspective, physics and perception, the series created an architectural illusion of infinity—a visual bluff—for 90 percent of what you see doesn't exist.

For this year’s 10 Days of Art, Justiniani will further develop his infinity series. His piece for Art Fair Philippines' new venture will be his largest one yet and perhaps his most political one, too. 

Justiniani will exhibit a life-size infinity box loaded with socio-political references in the hopes of inspiring people to mull over pressing issues prevalent in Philippine society today.

Commissioned by Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), Justiniani invites you to literally get inside this three dimensional space where he ensconced a combination of his old and new infinity constructs for a thought-provoking interactive experience.

Justiniani alternately calls it “Cube,” “Kubo” and “Pulo,” but will most likely name it “The Settlement.”

Mark Justiniani's digital study of the cube. Photo: Mark Justiniani.
Mark Justiniani's digital study of the cube. Photo: Mark Justiniani.

 

 The cube's skeleton in progress. Photo: Mark Justiniani.
The cube's skeleton in progress. Photo: Mark Justiniani.

 

The 12' × 15' × 11' cube is primarily divided into two parts. Upon entry, you’ll immediately see a narrow corridor in front of you with an illuminated retablo waiting at the end. 

"Retablo" is a Spanish term that means "behind the altar" and is traditionally used for religious devotion. As a Mexicon folk art form, retablos are usually small oil paintings of Catholic saints on tin, wood, or copper. 

A peek of Mark Justiniani's retablo in progress. Photo: Mark Justiniani.
A peek of Mark Justiniani's retablo in progress. Photo: Mark Justiniani.

On the right side of the cube is another passage that leads to a small gallery with a glowing kinetic sculpture at the center. The piece is composed of two discs colliding with each other, creating what seems to be an incandescent Mandala lantern. 

“It symbolically represents the two polar opposites in the country,” Justiniani revealed.

If you choose to explore this passage, you’ll discover that the floor adjacent to the moving discs is a transparent glass that covers an abyss with chains hanging on the side, as though something is being buried or pulled up.

You’ll probably feel seasick once you step in and want to instantly leave, but Justiniani invites you to stay.

Resonant with the Marcos burial controversy, the pit will rouse you to think about what the issue had dug up about the nation, about us.

“Ikaw, would it remind you of the burial?” Justiniani asked.

A man on top of the pit / The moving discs in progress. Photo: Mark Justiniani.
A man on top of the pit / The moving discs in progress. Photo: Mark Justiniani.

 

The pit. Photo: Mark Justiniani.
The pit. Photo: Mark Justiniani.

“I’m not saying na hukayin nila. It’s more of the issue unearthed unresolved things from the past that has long been buried, from history to heroism. And I want people to reflect on what we’ve unearthed. Introspective siya,” Justiniani shared. 

If you go deeper into this area, you’ll find a black and white simulation of the Malacañang Cabinet Room on the right wall with an apparition of Andrés Bonifacio and Justiniani’s made-up mythical creature manananggol. 

“The ghost will only appear at certain angles. You won't see it if you block the sculpture across it because it’s just a projection,” Justiniani shared.

 Mark Justiniani's digital sketch of manananggol. Photo: Mark Justiniani.
Mark Justiniani's digital sketch of manananggol. Photo: Mark Justiniani.

“Manananggol will be on the opposite side of Boni holding a flag. And I’ll probably make her pregnant,” the artist added.

“The Settlement” cube remains unfinished.

“I’ll add more objects, like placards, newspapers, tools of workers and farmers—among others. But I’m also worried na loaded na masyado. Masyadong strong ‘yong visuals sa loob. I’m thinking if lalagyan ko pa ng timer or sensor para minsan lang makikita ‘yong ibang pieces. I’m still thinking about a lot of things. Nasa problem-solving stage pa ako,” he confessed. 

Justiniani’s cube will be outside Ayala Museum during Art Fair Philippines 2017, and will be moved to UP Sunken Garden after if the government allows it.

“I just fear that they won’t allow it in UP. Sana pumayag sila,” Justiniani said.

Justiniani also worked on a special mural that he conceptualized and painted with internationally renowned Filipino artists Elmer Borlongan and Manny Garibay for Art Fair Philipines 2017.  — AT, GMA News

Mark Justiniani's "The Settlement" will be located outside the Ayala Museum during the 10 Days of Art from February 9 to 19. 10 Days of Art is an extension of the Art Fair Philippines, which will run from February 16 to 19 at The Link Carpark.

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