writings, projects and exhibitions of Clarissa Chikiamco

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Circa Revisited

The following is the text I wrote for A Circa Revisited, solo exhibition of Ranelle "Rain" Dial, at Mag:net Gallery Katipunan from 25 October to 13 November 2008. More pictures at Mag:net's website.

A Circa Revisited

In an extension from her previous exhibition Withering, Rain Dial continues her appraisal on a weakening communication system in her current solo show. A Circa Revisited expands on the theme of the old-fashioned post through its portrayals of the men in custody of this conventional form of message delivery.

Prior to phone, mobile phone and email technologies, the postman was the essential component in the transference of letters, announcements and other information. His physical presence and equally physically demanding tasks embodied the perseverance and necessity of human interaction, initiating the transgression of boundaries and underscoring the premium placed in communication exchange. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night (as the saying goes) could prevent the performance of this duty. The postman, in spite of any impediment thrown his way, would continue to relay crucial communication and serve as the critical point of contact between friends, family, communities and nations.

A Circa Revisited reflects on this role’s diminishing value. Like apparitions from a bygone era, Dial’s postmen are evidently dated and derived from images in the early 1900’s. They are shown in various locations amidst the everyday and extraordinary nature of their tasks: delivering via bicycle during the holidays, saving mails from a ruined city, reading an unknown addressee amidst a war or simply in the act of retrieving letters (from the commonplace mailbox to the secret tree hole for lovers’ written whispers). Postmen, denoted in Dial’s choice of somber neutral colors, have always been largely unnoticed characters and yet, their imperceptibility is bound to intensify. In the technology propulsion of the twenty-first century, those from point A to point B have effortless access to direct person-to-person contact. In the process, the middle man—the mailman—has been cut away.

Hinting of this are two of Dial’s paintings where postmen are not depicted. Like demoralized and abandoned assemblages, the mailboxes cluster together in perpetual wait for some content. Their hollow cavities echo the absence of what was once the constant occurrence of being filled, of holding the personal and historical narratives which have shaped the present that shuns it. It is an absence indicative of the other absence affixed to it, becoming traces of the human hand which once was a fixture there. A Circa Revisited gives encomium to those who’ve enabled a previously primary mode of communication. Poised to recede in giving way to progression, postmen, through this exhibition, are given their due presence.


Tabuena art central said...

Fantastic insight, Mabrook girl!

Ben Gage said...

Nice blog, thank you for your work.