The Drawing Room congratulates artists Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo and curator Joselina Cruz!
“The title of this exhibition The Spectre of Comparison is drawn from the novel Noli Me Tángere by the Filipino National Hero Jose Rizal. Originally written in Spanish as “el demonio de las comparaciones,” this enigmatic phrase is a framework for the practices of Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo, artists representing the Philippine Pavilion.
The phrase encapsulates the experience of Rizal’s protagonist, Crisostomo Ibarra, when he gazes out to look at the Botanical Garden of Manila while simultaneously remembering the gardens of Europe. This double-vision of experiencing events up close and from afar, no longer able to see the Philippines without seeing Europe nor gaze at Europe without seeing the Philippines, was pointed out by historian Benedict Anderson in his essay “The First Filipino” (1997): “Here indeed is the origin of nationalism, which lives by making comparisons.” Rizal, the nineteenth century indio from the colony, with some melancholy, comprehended the colonising European other.
With this as pivot, Lani Maestro’s and Manuel Ocampo’s practices, aesthetically worlds apart and produced through a multiplicity of contexts, have at their core this “spectre of comparison.” Both artists were politicised by the specific moments of their departure from the Philippines: Maestro leaving at the height of the Marcos dictatorship, Ocampo during the 1980s, after the Marcos regime was ousted in a revolution mounted by a society deeply dissatisfied with the ensuing corruption that followed Martial Law. Although their practices developed at different moments, they were forged within the “collective” experience of the émigrés spectre.”
– Excerpt from e-flux
Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo
The Spectre of Comparison
May 13–November 26, 2017
Philippine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Image reposted from Asia Now Paris Asian Art Fair