What makes Manila unique? Is it the criss-cross telephone lines, the everyday transport, the monuments or the waterways?
Eight contemporary artists answers this inquiry on Manila’s current phase through The Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET)’s current traveling exhibition, “Manila: Hidden in Plain Sight.”
Manila has long been a melting pot of communities from different provinces, races, and classes. Driven by its dwellers and surroundings, the city continues to transform.
Examining the memory of the city framed in the conditions of a changing urban landscape and culture, the artists also offer their reflection on the physical location and agency of the city’s residents.
Organized with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the exhibit also includes the collection of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
Selected pieces from the BSP collection include artworks by E. Aguilar Cruz, Antipas Delotavo, Alfredo Liongoren, Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, and Norberto Roldan, among others. The 1920’s piece “Intramuros Gate” by Isidro Ancheta opens the Galeriya Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas with an old depiction of the city’s passages.
The eight contemporary artists will also participate in the traveling leg of the exhibit, contributing alternative perceptions on the locality of Manila. Cocoy Lumbao’s “Index (Elevated Train)” is a single channel video shot inside a Light Rail Transit train, embodying a “near-utopian” version of the city through image manipulation.
“Gillage: History, Modernity, Conjecture” by Tad Ermitaño shows improvised housings and human-powered trolleys along Pandacan Bridge and the day-to-day lives of the settler community, while capturing cycles of habitation and adaption of unconventional architectural structures of Manila.
Other participating artists in the exhibition are Manix Abrera, Dina Gadia, Leeroy New, Issay Rodriguez, Denise Weldon, and MM Yu. Their works, exploring different media—video, photograph, sculpture, print, and collage—highlight the visages of Manila that people are accustomed to: the crude dwellings of informal settlers, the sense of impermanence due to the city’s constant restructuring, and the perpetuating condition of the Pasig River as the city’s major waterway.
Manila: Hidden in Plain Sight is on view at the Galeriya Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, White Cube Gallery and Open Gallery at the MET until August 26. It is set to travel to three selected schools in Metro Manila, namely Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Universidad de Manila, and Manila High School in September and October.