writings, projects and exhibitions of Clarissa Chikiamco

Saturday, May 31, 2008


I wrote the exhibition write-up for Ranelle "Rain" Dial's show Withering, which was held at West Gallery last 25 March to 30 April 2008. I was really happy that Rain asked me to write! :) Please click here to see the installation shots of the show in West Gallery's website and here for pictures of each work in Rain Dial's multiply.

“It is like a random archaeology of the not-too-distant past, the almost-present.

The medium itself is poised to become a thing of the past, a memory.

Particular technologies do not just become associated with certain periods and places; they are an integral part of a particular period and how it is experienced.”

-Geoff Dyer

Ranelle Dial’s solo exhibition, Withering, gathers together varied images of mailboxes from all over the world. The Philippines, US, Japan, Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Germany, England and Spain-these are only some of the places in a global phenomenon where the mailbox is increasingly becoming a defunct entity in the face of faster and more accessible communication systems.

Dial brings together these images of mailboxes and paints them in an act of observation, preservation and collection. While the mailbox fades into a thing of the past, the exhibition shows that its shape, design and color have been just as pluralistic as the messages it contained. The mailbox, as Withering points out, is reflective not only of the passing culture in which it was shaped but had been adaptive to the specific societies it found itself in.

People are finding more creative ways-albeit unsanctioned ones-to use mailboxes as they diminish in importance. Mailboxes have become receptacles for trash, unwanted mails, legal office notices-even, humorously, human excrement. For the others that can’t seem to find such secondary uses, it seems that a destiny to languish away as unnoticed relics of a time gone by awaits them.

Yet, the artist has noticed. And, in Withering, she attempts to recall the history of this object and its once-upon-a-time relevance amidst its current threatened reality. So while the mailbox may be losing its vitality, through this exhibition at least, it is granted some renewed vigor.

Images: Courtesy of the artist.

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