Visual artist mounts 13-foot installation to urge the youth to revisit history’s dark period
MULTI-MEDIA visual artist Toym Imao has let out his childhood anger on the corner of Makati Avenue and De la Rosa Street in the capital’s Central Business District. The son of the late National Artist Abdulmari Asia Imao has done so via an imposing art installation in front of the Ayala Museum, which paradoxically serves as a public invitation to the new gallery, OpenSpace.
True to its name, the gallery has put to good use the open area in a laudable effort to bring contemporary art to the public. For its debut, the museum invited Imao to exhibit “Last, Lost, Lust For Four Forgotten Episodes,” a carroza-like art installation inspired by the artist’s childhood love for Japanese animation Voltes V, and his frustration over the cancellation of its four final episodes by order of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
The collection was first exhibited in the University of the Philippines’ Palma Hall.
Symbolically, it was launched on September 21, 2014 to commemorate the infamous
Declaration of Martial Law.
Upon receiving an invitation from Ayala Museum to exhibit at OpenSpace, Imao updated his carroza for this second outing with numerous details to strengthen his message.
The result was a cornucopia of symbolisms, elements, and imagery of both Voltes V and Martial Law, both recognizable and relatable to Filipinos of a certain generation.
According to the artist, he pulled the idea of the carroza from his childhood memories of processions during the Holy Week.
“It also plays around the idea of something put into a pedestal,” Imao further explained as he gave a brief guided tour at the exhibit’s launch this week.
On this pedestal is an assemblage of figures that contributed greatly to Marcos’ rise to power. It features an effigy of the dictator’s head with the Malacañang Palace atop it, and the Batasang Pambansa and Bataan Nuclear Power Plant along the sides. Also on top of the former president’s head is San Miguel, protected by the Voltes V armor, brandishing a sword to show the effects of Martial Law through the lines of riot police below.
Along the bottom of the carroza are images of Voltes V’s villains, characters from Planet Boazania that tried to conquer Earth. It is symbolic of how the military tried to control the freedom of Filipinos in the past. Finally, the Latin words “Nunquam Rursus” are written at the top of the installation, to mean “Never Again.”
The 13-feet installation took Imao about a year to complete. Due to budget constraints, the artist had to work alternately between commissioned projects and the completion of “Last, Lost, Lust”. He employed two extra pairs of hands at a time for the first version of the carroza, while it took another dozen helpers to put the this upgraded and updated version together,
As iconic as Voltes V may have been during his time, Imao recognizes the fact that today’s generation may not be too familiar with the ‘70s Japanese animated series, and in the same vein, what took place during Martial Law. He also lamented revisionist statements on Facebook where the younger generation is made to believe that the Marcos’ dictatorship had actually been “the golden age of Philippine history.”
Nevertheless, it is Imao’s hope that his installation will “generate questions” among the youth that will compel them to uncover the truth behind the darkest period of the Marcos regime.
“That martial law is a machine that invades our normal lives,” he concluded.
The exhibit will run until June 15. Imao is set to exhibit two more works on OpenSpace inspired by other iconic Japanese animations, Mazinger Z and Daimos.