Passion and Procession
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Passion and Procession

Stories/222 , Issues/Arts & Culture , Issues/Multiculturalism
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
4th Jan 2018
Passion and Procession
Passion and Procession features ten Filipino-Australian contemporary artists.

With the collaboration of VisAsia and the Bayanihan Philippines Art Project, the Passion and Procession exhibit at the Art Gallery of New South Wales has been open for public viewing from 24 June 2017 and continues until 07 January 2018. The exhibit features several art installations, paintings, film, and other forms of medium from ten Filipino-Australian contemporary artists. This includes Mark Justiniani, Norberto Roldan, Rodel Tapaya, Geraldine Javier, Nina Garcia, Alwin Reamillo, and Renato Habulan, among many others. True to its name, the Passion and Procession exhibit showcases how different artists perceive and respond to the socio-political issues that blend with religious beliefs and culture, given the Philippines' precolonial past and its current predominantly Catholic influence.

Passion and Procession was extended until 2018 with free admission to gain more traction from the Australian public. It was a part of the Bayanihan Philippine Art Project that featured a more extensive collection of Philippine art in Australia, through the collaboration of various art galleries such as the Blacktown Arts Centre, Mosman Art Gallery, Peacock Gallery, the Campbelltown Arts Centre, and the Museum and Galleries of NSW.

A woman sits on the floor and watches Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr.'s two channel video, "Chosen People (Mga Hinirang)" and "Devotion (Dibusyon)", both created in 2012. In "Chosen People (Mga Hinirang)", the video shows a self-proclaimed prophet, Mang Lauro (left) and his disciples, who are standing in front of Quiapo Church - a popular Catholic Church in the Philippines' capital Manila - as they openly speak up about the corruption in government and the need for everyone to turn to Jesus Christ in order to be saved. In "Devotion (Dibusyon)", different scenes show a chaotic scene of crowds around the Black Nazarene during the procession, where people try to climb to kiss or touch the statue. The Black Nazarene statue is believed to have miraculous powers and is celebrated every January.

Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr.'s two channel video, "Chosen People (Mga Hinirang)" and "Devotion (Dibusyon)".
Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr.'s two channel video, "Chosen People (Mga Hinirang)" and "Devotion (Dibusyon)".

In Norberto Roldan's "Crusade" (2015), Roldan makes use of mixed media in his art installation, including wax, carpet, and fluorescent tubes to make the symbolic cross. Roldan's Crusade is more than just any carpet; it represents the carpets in the Middle East that many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) bring home to their families as a gift. It speaks of the sacrifices that many OFWs have made in order to work in difficult and sometimes dangerous work environments in the Middle East. It also represents respect for OFWs who made the decision to leave home in the first place and to be willing to work hard labour in foreign countries in order to provide for their families in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the cross made of fluorescent tubes symbolises a contemporary pilgrimage of sorts, since Filipino migrants have journeyed far from home to the Holy Land.

Nona Garcia's "Recovery" (2017) makes use of 60 X-rayed objects that include a mix of both Indigenous artifacts - rice sculptures, charms, and jewellery - that are common to the Ifugao province and Baguio area in the Philippines. For Garcia, the installation piece represents the city's lost religious and healing practices, especially now that modern scientific practices dominate.

Using piano lids, piano hinges, and lacquer, Filipino artist Alwin Reamillo makes a collage of sorts in "Republika oligarkiya" (Republic of Oligarchy) and "Maragondon 1897, Cabanatuan 1899". In "Maragondon 1897, Cabanatuan 1899", Philippine revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio is located on the left, while General Antonio Luna is on the right. Andres Bonifacio was the founder of the revolutionary group called the KKK (Kataas-taasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan), which led to many revolts against the Spaniards in the Philippines during the 1800s. General Antonio Luna is regarded as one of the most prominent generals during the Philippine-American war. The installation also includes General Emilio Aguinaldo - the first Philippine president - and his security group, which hints at the speculation that he was involved in the deaths of both Bonifacio and Luna due to political clashes and clan loyalties that still exist today in the Philippines.

The materials used for this work were inspired by Reamillo's family history. The Reamillo family were the last producers of pianos in the country (Javincello & Co, Inc.).

In Renato Habulan's "Pilgrimage (Lakbay panata)", wood, wax, and symbolic artefacts were used to produce wooden sculptures that were spread around the exhibition. The ten sculptures hold objects that represent Catholic crosses and staffs used in processions while other sculptures make use of indigenous objects of various tribes in the Philippines. It represents the way both Catholic beliefs and folk religions have blended together in Philippine society today.

Renato Habulan's "Pilgrimage (Lakbay panata)".
Renato Habulan's "Pilgrimage (Lakbay panata)".

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