Beat exhibit curatorial note by Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez :
There is a deliberately forlorn and somber tone to this outing. Images of the prostrate and crestfallen easily evoke a stance of defeat, a succumbing to odds. But Beat also linguistically traverses a more mobile positionality, possibly one that suggests a desire to plod on in sheer resilience or blind resolve. By staying on in the present tense rather than as the more definitive ‘beaten’, this exhibition also conscripts the energies of artists Nikki Luna and Ernest Concepcion to effect stagings of confrontation with the difficult, the resistant, and even the impossible.
If you look closely on Ernest Concepcion’s interpretation of Hidalgo you will realize that Felix Hidalgo was portrayed as a robot by Ernest Concepcion. Hidalgo was plug in the electrical outlet inside the museum. Can you see where I am pointing to? That is the main plug of Hidalgo. Ha ha ha!
He can’t get enough of his art that he decided to make his own skin as a canvass to visualize his ideas. Oh, he is not a tattoo artist though. He hired a professional artist to execute his ideas on his arms.
I got a chance to talk to Nikki Luna. She said that she is an activist artist. And her interpretation of Beat is about the value of land, a continuation of her installation “Sa Ngalan ng Tubo”. Nikki Luna put up hanging bone china to represent picket line fences and sticks that are used to hit people in rallies or demonstrations during dispersal. There’s an idea of chaos as represented by the chaotic shadows on the screen. People who are beaten or tired of their situations. The victims of human rights violations beaten to the ground. She said that her installation symbolizes indigenous people community in Mindanao, or a group of people who fight for their cause, not necessarily the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, but especially on land disputes, mining, and against human rights violations.
Nikki said that the soil on the floor represents her belief on the value of land and her support to farmers against land grabbing and mining. The video background is taken from a farm where you could hear from the background the sounds of guns being fired. These are the actual gunshots that claimed the lives of the farmer demonstrators in that area. The sound was recorded by Nikki’s friend.
Embellished Earth (Rice and Monggo topped with 14k Gold)
Who is Nikki Luna?
Nikki Luna is an artist and the founder of StartArtproject, a non-profit organization aimed at providing art workshops to women and youth victims of armed conflict and human rights violations in the Philippines. Her works have been shown locally and abroad Milan Italy and Singapore. Her women advocacy is an endeavor she is currently studying in-depth in her Masters in Women and Development Studies in UP.
The art exhibit of Ernest Concepcion and Nikki Luna is so intimate. One will not feel deprived looking at their artworks, up close and personal. Nikki Luna invoked intense emotions emanating from personal and collective trauma. While Concepcion, in these recent years of re-establishing his art practice in the East Coast of the United States, has taken to staging art duels starting from the squirrel vs. ants. Nikki Luna and Ernest Concepcion’s artworks has made me realized that art is not only about making a statement but it is also a tool on advocating something worthy to give back to the society in general.