Samak Kosem Gary-Ross Pastrana Pam Quinto Mark Salvatus and Seekersinternational Jao San Pedro Tan Zi Hao Isola Tong Yim Yen Sum
Curated by Carlos Quijon, Jr. 28 May — 3 July 2021
This publication is published in conjunction with Errant Life, Promiscuous Form, a group exhibition curated by Carlos Quijon, Jr. Held at Gravity Art Space, Quezon City, Philippines from May 28th to July 3rd, 2021.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction 2 Curator Essay 16 Artworks 36 Artists and Curator Profiles 40 Acknowledgement
Samak Kosem Gary-Ross Pastrana Pam Quinto Mark Salvatus and Seekersinternational Jao San Pedro Tan Zi Hao Isola Tong Yim Yen Sum curator
Carlos Quijon, Jr graphic design
Indy Paredes exhibition team
Indy Paredes Melany Mae Matias Serafin Matias, Jr. David Matias Serafin Matias III
Presented by Gravity Art Space and A+ Works of Art, Errant Life, Promiscuous Form features works of artists based in Manila, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. The exhibition looks at artists whose practices speak to different forms of life, or interfacings between life and form: interspecies thinking and formmaking, the mediatization of life (or evidence of it), life of materials in the context of creative processes, and the conceptual life and afterlives of things. The exhibition explores how forms shape and structure lives and how life informs and structures what forms may be imagined or made material. Ideas of form and life are intertwined and made to mutually constitute each other. Life is imagined to encompass not only organic existence but also participation and processes of social life and lives of concepts, materials, and objects as these travel and transform, and are translated within practice and into a proliferation of tropes and tenors. In this frame, the exhibition proposes to think about life and form as errant as they thrive in mobility and become susceptible to serendipity and contingency, and thus promiscuous as they mingle with each other and among others.
Errant Life, Promiscuous Form
Errant Life, Promiscuous Form imagines the exhibition as a site of elaborations of vitality — whether involving artistic agencies Carlos Quijon, Jr and forms, practices, and even vis-à-vis art’s vaster ecology and economies of collaboration. Co-organised by Gravity Art Space, a newly inaugurated gallery in Manila, and A+ Works of Art, a young gallery based in Kuala Lumpur, the exhibition presents the works of artists based in Manila, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok whose practices speak to different forms of life. The concept riffs off Ludwig Wittgenstein’s formulation “to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.” From interspecies thinking and formmaking in the works of Tan Zi Hao and Isola Tong, to the life of materials in the context of creative processes in the practice of Pam Quinto and Gary-Ross Pastrana, the attentiveness to how forms of life are informed by particular materialities in the works of Samak Kosem and Yim Yen Sum, how life mediates forms and forms mediate life in Jao San Pedro and Mark Salvatus in collaboration with Seekersinternational, the exhibition explores how forms shape and structure lives and how life informs and structures what forms may be imagined or made material. Ideas of form and life are intertwined and made to mutually constitute each other. In thinking alongside Wittgenstein’s elucidation of forms of life, the exhibition prospects artistic practice as a language that articulates and annotates the interfacing of conceptualizations of life and form. This interfacing reconsiders both notions. By thinking about life in relation to form, we address what materialities life takes and what modes of making it undertakes and undergoes. By looking at form in relation to life, we take note of how form circulates, the kinds of socialities and technologies through which it navigates. The exhibition therefore takes interest in how conceptualizations
of life may be rendered plural, not only in relation to organic and biological perspectives but also in terms of the more hospitable idiom of vitality — the implication and embeddedness in social and technological contexts, itineraries of circulation, translations and iterations in human or nonhuman contexts. In reframing ideas of life this way, it is rendered prolific across intersections of agency and intervention. The exhibition proposes to think about life and form as errant and thus promiscuous. Errancy in this framework alludes to how both life and form thrive in mobility and dissemination and how throughout their circulation they are rendered susceptible to serendipity and contingency. Away from imaginations of autonomy, the works presented in this exhibition are shaped by their participation in the processes of social life of artistic practice and artistic work. Both life and form are rendered promiscuous in the way they are allowed to mingle with each other and among others. Pastrana’s works for the exhibition have been presented elsewhere. In the case of Paperweight (2017), each iteration adds a literal layer to the work in the form of printed materials. Tong’s ghillie suit for Florophilia (2021) has been part of her other works and while is here now displayed on its own, alludes to an extensive biography of use. Tan’s The Light When Dust Settles (2021) is just one articulation of a more expansive research and artistic project involving the household casebearer. To be errant and promiscuous are the conceptual conceit that this exhibition allows to prosper against the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic, nominating the exhibition space as an exceptional milieu where these can be cultivated in diverse and discrepant ways. The work of Tan Zi Hao and Isola Tong look at lifeforms and their participation in economies of anthropocentric meaning-making and urban space. In Tan’s The Light When Dust Settles (2021), he considers the household casebearer, the larva stage of a moth species. The work is composed of two objects: an actual specimen of the larva which has been dusted with gold powder and a magnified image of the casebearer taken with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) in which we see in
microscopic detail a case or carapace of dust. For Tan, the case “epitomise[s] the contingency of dust in mediating form and life.” The larva accumulates dust and other detritus and fashions out of these its domicile. In this sense, dust traces the insect’s itinerary, embodies the history of its life. In the installation, scale informs how we relate to and imagine the life of the larva. The microscopic gesture allows the intimacy of the miniscule specimen and the immensity of the magnified image to mesh in one object. Gold dust adds to value to the specimen inasmuch as the magnification allows us to appreciate the species’s constitution to the most minute detail. As the artist elaborates: “The nondescript appearance of dust betokens a theory of everything under the influence of time. Ever errant and promiscuous, dust tickles our anthropocentric insistence on distinguishing treasure from thrash, life from death, form from formlessness. Juxtaposing a speck of dust and a static panel of light, The Light When Dust Settles is a vision of a portal between worlds: a world where dust gathers and accumulates, vis-à-vis a world that requires no dusting, static and digital.” Tong embodies the forest in Florophilia (2021), an iteration of the artist’s more expansive research project on the Arroceros Forest Part, a pocket of forest at the heart of urban Manila. A ghillie suit on a mannequin stands in one corner of the gallery with leaves and pods of the Fire Tree by its feet. The tree species was brought from Madagascar to the archipelago during the Spanish colonial period, from 16th and 17th century. The artist has used the suit in her research trips to Arroceros, from which it has gathered the assortment of plant matter that accompanies the installation. For Tong, the suit is the skin through which she mediates “the sensuous morphologies of the forest as a phenomenological skinship between human and nonhuman agencies.” For her the suit is emblematic of “haptic ecological lovemaking as one of the highest forms of environmental love, an interpenetration of forms of senses as a form of queer communion.”
Gary-Ross Pastrana and Pam Quinto prospect life in the processes of transforming materials into artworks. Pastrana’s works for the exhibition were both shown in Jakarta in 2017. For Fellen (2017), he crafted a flower out of human skin that he harvested from a friend who has a condition that causes an overproduction of dry skin. To simulate the semblance, Pastrana asked a professional makeup artist to touch up the specimen and to adorn it to her liking. The result is a fragile thing made of paper-thin skin. For Paperweight (2017), he created a starfish from soil, water, and his own blood. The titular paperweight is used to secure a pile of printouts. The printed material is the result of a simple google search using the raw materials of the starfish as key terms: soil, blood, water, star, fish. He asks each gallery that presents it to add to the printouts and with each presentation of the work, the pile grows. Pastrana’s works not only foreground the artistic practice that creates out of various materials and processes an artistic object but also how the exhibitionary becomes a context and condition of generative recontextualizations. The delicate constitution of Fellen anticipates careful handling and touching up. The exhibition in this case becomes an event of interrogating its condition, with each context of display also becoming a context of repair or restoration. While this also applies to the starfish in Paperweight, the interrogation of the exhibition as part of the object’s social life is extended in the latter to its very materiality in the sense that with each exhibition that the work participates in the research accumulates and the printout piles on. Both works speak to the poetic transformation of material into thing. The labor involved seeks semblance and interrogates this aspiration. An astute sensitivity to materiality and the transformative agency of artistic practice to give form to raw material and even to reify it motivates this idiom. These objects are not so much complete and fool-proof mimetic instances but instead are explorations of how artistic labor may constitute its own materiality.
Pam Quinto’s interdisciplinary practice elaborates on these contexts even further. Attuned to how processes and labors shape artistic practice, Quinto has created different suite of works from the same raw materials. Both Longing Vessel (2021) and So-called Biological Clock (2021) involve a ceramic fossil of an undergarment and a ground of living moss attached to it. The former work is the actual object while the latter is an image of Quinto’s first attempt which was abandoned because mold started growing on the moss. Central in the process is the “death” of the actual object as in the creation of the ceramic piece the actual undergarment was incinerated in the firing process, and the “life” of the work as “a living sculpture that would need tending to.” For the artist: “The stewardship of the piece becomes akin to the care of the self and the care of another.” Transference (2021) and Our bodies will have kept score (2021) are works that involve pieces of wood which are painted and then subjected to the repetitive process of gluing together and ripping apart. The process has left indelible marks on the surface of the pieces. Transference is composed of a video of this process and a sculpture created from the wood pieces, and Our bodies will have kept score is a close-up print of the wood’s texture. In Quinto’s work, process is practice. Each aspect of process yields to a materiality and each materiality its own economy of signification: from the pressures of womanhood to the transformative effects of intimacy. The attentiveness to the materialities that shape forms of life motivates the works of Samak Kosem and Yin Sum Yen. Inspired by the Islamic imaginations of the afterlife where objects return as sentient, able to testify for one’s sin or sanctity, Kosem’s brotherhood (2021) look at the interfacing of material, faith, and queerness. The work is composed of sarongs that he has collected from young queer men from Islamic schools in southern Thailand. The artist placed the sarongs side by side
and inscribed on them prayers and confessions of his own queerness. Alongside this work is the video work titled habibi (2021) where he juxtaposes an archival footage of the Bacha Bazi (“dancing boys”), an entertainment culture prevalent in South Asia wherein an all-male audience watch a program of all-male dancers, and the performance of queer Muslim dancer Manawat Promrat in the privacy of their own room. In the duration of the video, the queer body and its performance displaces the archival record of the Bacha Bazi performance. What results is a montage that makes it seem that the gathering of men is watching the exuberant performance of Manawat. For the artist, “This video work reflects the contradictions of the male gaze vis-a-vis the imagined male effeminacy and form of desire in religious subjectivities. This performance of ‘Bacha Bazi’ by Manawat Promrat, a queer Muslim both explores and exposes their body as material culture.” In both works, homosociality assumes the materiality of textile and also the filmic montage and the embodied performance. Queerness manifests in the intimate juxtapositions of maleness and masculinity as performance, in the contexts of homosocial gathering and performance, and in the effeminate body as it absorbs the masculine gaze and thrives in it. Yin Sum Yen, meanwhile, looks at the history of heritage sites vis-à-vis urban landscapes. Using dyed gauze panels, both Floating Island (2020) and the series Keep a distance (2021) interrogate notions of scale and the built environment. She takes notice of how while actual heritage buildings are protected from gentrification, its perimeters do not usually share this protection. With aggressive development in the areas surrounding these heritage sites, the actual buildings that are supposed to protected are dwarfed or rendered miniscule or alien. In Floating Island, the structure maintains its scale and the golden façade retains its allure, but it is by its lonesome, abstracted from its environmental context. In Keep a distance, while each of the structures fashioned out of sheer textile is of equal length (measured per panel of gauze), their placement
in acrylic boxes make it appear that each structure is in different stages of sinking. For the artist, the works presented in the exhibition “focus on the contradiction, awkwardness, and the strangeness of the situation that these old buildings are embedded in by playing with the size and scale of these installations.” Finally, the work of Jao San Pedro and the collaborative production of Mark Salvatus and Seekersinternational play out the mutual constitution of forms and lives. Continuing her explorations on the grid as the normative trope of both modernist art history and heterosexist imaginations of identity and expression, San Pedro creates an item of clothing that embraces and exceeds the limiting imaginations of grid as form through her own trans body. Starting from a piece of square fabric, San Pedro fashions a garment that takes shape according to the body that wears it, according to the performance of wearing the fabric, the cloth draping onto body, or the garment slipping into a shape. According to her: “the trans body presents itself as a mode and framework of abstraction that seizes and rules its configurations. The structure’s failure, fracture, and reliance on the trans body inspect a paradoxical potentiality where wholeness can refuse dogma and fixity.” Stitching together existing video clips of his artistic trips, Salvatus offers us a glimpse of his life before the global pandemic. From videos of landscape, performances, and more diurnal and transitory footages, the resulting montage materializes memory and presence. Through the sound design
of Seekersinternational, a DJ collective with roots from the Philippines and based in Canada, the archival materials but are now given a new sense of contemporaneity, unfolding as a visual and sonic experience in the gallery. In this sense the specter of the archive haunts the present and the contemporary and it is the ever-present unfolding of these experiences in the context of the exhibition that refuses the foreclosing of memory and transforms it into a sense of futurity against the monotony of our domestic worlds in the time of a global pandemic. The exhibition affords the works a space to converse with and to inflect one another’s concerns and interests. While this is an aspect of the exhibitionary form that inheres in its very materiality of gathering discrepant forms, people, and discourses in a bounded space, Errant Life, Promiscuous Form highlights this even more. The works in the exhibition play out continuously proliferating networks, sites, and contexts of practice, forms, lives — ever errant and persistently promiscuous.
habibi, a video of a performance, works in dialog with “the dancing boys” or “Bacha Bazi,” an entertainment culture in South Asia (mostly Afghanistan and Pakistan) which are referenced in reports, documentaries, novels and films, and are discussed in relation to the issue of human trafficking, homosexuality, gender inequality, and religious discourses. This video work reflects the contradictions of the male gaze vis-a-vis the imagined male effeminacy and form of desire in religious subjectivities. This performance of “Bacha Bazi” by Manawat Promrat, a queer Muslim both explores and exposes their body as material culture. Meanwhile, brotherhood presents Muslim sarongs collected from the young queer men of Nakon Sri Thammarat, a southern province of Thailand where many Islamic schools are located. Their sarongs are cut and put together to reflect the intimacy of their brotherhood and allude to sexual desires in their homosocial circles. The fragments of sarong are juxtaposed and connected by their edges. The texts in Arabic are translated confessions of Kosem’s being queer. Muslims believe that objects return alive in the next world as witnesses of human sin and merit, and that the only language that God converses with is Arabic.
habibi 2021 Video 7 min 35 sec
brotherhood 2021 Framed sarong (3) 85 × 60 cm
Pastrana shows two works both completed in 2017. Paperweight is a starfish made out of soil, water, and a little blood from the artist, sitting on top of a pile of A4 sheets. The stack of paper is composed of printouts of research involving a basic google search of the key components of the starfish sculpture: star, fish, water, blood, soil (and other related words). The results of this research are saved, printed, and added to the stack. The work is accumulative, each presentation of the work adds to the archive of search results that form a pedestal for the paperweight or else a dense bibliography that also speculates and elaborates on the work. Fellen is a wilted flower created using human skin, from the petal to the twig to the leaves. Pastrana collected skin from a friend who has a condition that makes them produce excess skin. To complete the work, Pastrana asked a professional make-up artist to render the flower more realistic. The resulting object is a delicate flower made of skin.
Fellen 2017 Skin, glue, make up and acrylic box 50 × 50 × 15 cm
Paperweight 2017 Starfish made out of soil, water, artist’s blood on top of A4 sheets Dimensions variable
Quinto’s two projects examine the life and afterlife of objects, and how these correlate with intimacy and the body. The gradual growth of longing takes the form of Longing Vessel. With the death of the object through a ceramic fossilizing process, the artist queries if its life cycle could be reincarnated into a living sculpture that would need tending to. The stewardship of the piece becomes akin to the care of the self and the care of another. So-called Biological Clock, meanwhile, touches on the pressures on women to settle down by a certain age. This idea of the “completeness” of womanhood as being contingent upon motherhood, is questioned since not all women choose to or are able to subscribe to these expectations. Transference explores notions of limbic bonding, social synapse, and mingling bodies. What parts of ourselves are truly and wholly ours? What parts of ourselves came from others and vice versa? The project explores the soul ties formed in acts of intimacy and the fallout we experience as being likened to gluing pieces of wood and ripping them apart. Something happens to the synapses in our brains as we form emotional bonds and we are never really left completely the same afterwards, even in casual trysts.
Longing Vessel 2021 Land moss on stoneware 23 × 16.5 × 3 cm o-called Biological Clock S 2021 Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag 30 × 40 cm
Transference 2021 Video; Wood, latex paint, and wood glue Dimensions variable 4 min 30 sec Our bodies will have kept score 2021 Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag 40 × 23 cm
Mark Salvatus and Seekersinternational
The newly commissioned video work is inspired by the late conceptual artist David Medalla (1938–2020) and his participatory work A Stitch in Time. For this work, Salvatus stitches together video clips found in his hard drive, CD-R, DVD-R that he has accumulated since 2007 (never shown in public). The video becomes material, souvenir, memory. In editing the videos together, the personal is blurred. The time of the pandemic becomes auspicious as the time to dig in and reflect and to stitch time as the present.
See Saw, ACT 1 (The Seed) 2021 Video 10 min 50 sec
Jao San Pedro
Autofiguration is a negotiation between the trans body and the gender normative reality within which it exists. In this work, a planar form, symbolic of conventions and presuppositions, is apportioned, seamed, and sutured. In its collapse, the trans body presents itself as a mode and framework of abstraction that seizes and rules its configurations. The structure’s failure, fracture, and reliance on the trans body inspect a paradoxical potentiality where wholeness can refuse dogma and fixity.
Autofiguration 2021 Textile installation, archival print on paper Dimensions variable
Tan Zi Hao
Household casebearers (Phereoeca spp.) accrue dust and refashion it into building blocks for their own protective cases. Combining Greek words “phero” (bearer) and “oikos” (house), the scientific name “Phereoeca” readily reveals the creature’s habit of towing its house as it rubs against the pull of gravity. Bearing the weight of its home, it moves about our home, feeding on cobwebs, dead arthropods, our sloughed-off skin and hair. It gathers dust. Dust is destiny. Dust accumulates as time passes; dust is where life returns to; dust is the afterlife of all forms of life. The cases composed by household casebearer larvae epitomise the contingency of dust in mediating form and life. The nondescript appearance of dust betokens a theory of everything under the influence of time. Ever errant and promiscuous, dust tickles our anthropocentric insistence on distinguishing treasure from thrash, life from death, form from formlessness. Juxtaposing a speck of dust and a static panel of light, The Light When Dust Settles (2021) is a vision of a portal between worlds: a world where dust gathers and accumulates, vis-à-vis a world that requires no dusting, static and digital. It mulls over what light exposes and what dust absorbs; how clarity is reached or muddled through our micro rituals of lighting and dusting.
The Light When Dust Settles 2021 Gold-dusted casebearer, magnified stitched SEM image of casebearer Dimensions variable
In this iteration of Forest of Agencies, Tong imagines the urban forest not only as a site of resistance, but also as an explorative locus of intersubjective intimacies. Taking cue from the Ecosexual Manifesto written by sexecologists Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, the artist meditates on the sensuous morphologies of the forest as a phenomenological skinship between human and nonhuman agencies. A haptic ecological lovemaking as one of the highest forms of environmental love, an interpenetration of forms of senses as a form of queer communion. The focus of this installation is the phallic detritus of the fruits of the fire tree (Delonix regia (Hook.) Raf) found in the Arroceros Forest Park. The tree is native to Madagascar and was introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish regime around the 16th to 17th century. During the colonial times it was called “Arbol del fuego” and in recent times, “Fire Tree” or “Flame of the forest.” In the Philippines, a flamboyant inflorescence of crimson and orange signals the “comings” of the “wet” monsoon. The detritus of the legumes the she has collected thus signals an immanent arrival of rain and seasonal wetness.
Florophilia 2021 Ghillie suit, intermedia installation Dimensions variable
Yin Yen Sum
The two works speak to the rapid changes in the urban landscape of Kuala Lumpur. In Keep a Distance buildings made of gauze appear to be sinking. The high-rise buildings are growing too fast. There is lesser space in the city, it even feels hard to breathe. In recent years, everyone has realized the need to protect historical buildings and sites. While some of the buildings are protected what is surprising is that the environment around these historical sites have been transformed into gentrified and trendy environs where high-rise buildings have dwarfed these heritage sites, highlighting the discrepancies between these two aspects of urban life. We need to realize that we do not only need to protect the buildings, we also need to protect the environment of the buildings. If the environment surrounding the buildings is destroyed, it is equivalent to this monument being submerged and dying. The artworks presented in this exhibition focus on the contradiction, awkwardness, and the strangeness of the situation that these old buildings are embedded in by playing with the size and scale of these installations.
Keep a Distance (I–V) 2021 Embroidery on gauze, gauze dyed in acrylic (5) 130 × 20 cm
Yin Yen Sum
The Floating Island 2020 Embroidery on gauze, gauze dyed in acrylic 128 × 80 cm
Artists and Curator Profiles Samak Kosem investigates transnational sexuality frameworks that circulate and connect them to sexual discourse, practices, and subjectivities as well as migration and religiosity. His first project on “nonhuman ethnography” (2017–ongoing) in Southern Thailand considers how queerness is inhabited in Muslim culture through the contexts of nonhuman relations. Samak’s work questions the mobile forms of sexual citation and assemblage as persuasion to undo stories and allow for new meanings of sexuality. Samak was born in Bangkok and raised in Rayong and Nonthaburi. He relocated to Chiang Mai in 2004 for his undergraduate studies and received his BS and MA in anthropology and continued his doctoral study at Chiang Mai University in Social Sciences. Samak’s first group show The Enmeshed (2017) and his first solo show Otherwise Inside (2018) were held in Bangkok. His artworks have been presented in galleries in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore. Samak’s writing has recently been published by Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia. Gary-Ross Pastrana’s art has been one of the most persistent in terms of combining concepts with objects. Pastrana received his Bachelor’s degree in Painting from the University of the Philippines in 2000, where he was awarded the Dominador Castañeda Award for Best Thesis. In 2006, Pastrana received the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Award. He has shown at the Singapore Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines, the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and was part of the 2019 The Art Encounters Biennial in Romania, 2019 Singapore Biennale, 2012 New Museum Triennale in New York, 2010 Aichi Triennale, and 2008 Busan Biennale. In 2004, he co-founded Future Prospects art space. In addition to his artistic career, Pastrana curates and organizes exhibitions in Manila and abroad. P am Quinto graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, major in Studio Arts (Painting) in 2014 from the University of the Philippines, from which she received the Outstanding Thesis and the Gawad Tanglaw awards for her undergraduate thesis. She is the founder and curator of Parcel Exhibitions, a portable exhibition modality developed in response to the arts immobility caused by pandemic lockdowns. Quinto has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Manila and elsewhere, including Figure-proof (2020) at A+ Works of Art; A will for prolific disclosures (2020) at The Drawing Room; Double Double, Moore in Trouble (2019) at Tin-Aw Gallery; For Every Atom Belonging to Me (2019) at the Sampaguita Art Projects; and Kabit at Sabit (2019), a one-day simultaneous presentation of multi-site site-specific projects all-over the archipelago organized by Load na Dito Projects; to name the most recent. She is set to hold her first solo exhibition at Mo_Space in October this year.
Mark Salvatus is a contemporary artist living and working in Manila, Philippines. He studied Advertising at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila and since 2006 has produced his artistic project as “Salvage Projects,” working across various disciplines and media. Most recently, his works have been presented in different exhibitions and venues including the 2nd Lahore Biennale (2020); Kyoto Art Center (2020); Motions of this Kind at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London; Leaving the Echo Chamber, Sharjah Biennale 2019; Unfolding: Fabric of our Life, Mill6 CHAT, Hong Kong (2019); Hothouse, PCAN Pavilion, Gwangju Biennale (2018), among others. He is part of the traveling exhibition, Notes for Tomorrow organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI). Together with Mayumi Hirano, they founded Load na Dito Projects in 2016, an artistic and research initiative that explores various modes of producing and presenting contemporary art by organizing and coorganizing a wide range of programs. Seekersinternational (or SKRSINTL) is a predominantly Filipino artist collective based in British Columbia, Canada with roots in Quezon City, Metro Manila. Consisting of music producers, DJs, visual artists, and various personnel, all of whom have chosen to keep their identities concealed, SKRSINTL produces experimental electronic music influenced by Jamaican dub and sound system culture. Their covert sound art experiments revolve around themes of manufactured landscapes and identities, invisible minorities, twisted timelines, oblique realities, and codified cosmology. Previously known only in their own circles, peerto-peer networks and Usenet newsgroups, SKRSINTL debuted their work to a wider global audience in 2012 and have since then continued to release works on notable labels such as Bokeh Versions, Berceuse Heroique, No Corner and Warp Records in the UK; Future Times and Boomarm Nation in the US; Diskotopia in Japan; as well as their own imprint, ICS Library Records; subversively establishing their unique voice and unmistakable presence in contemporary electronic music.
Jao San Pedro (b. 1998) is a visual artist and interdisciplinary designer based in Manila, Philippines. Her work is an inquiry into the body within the context of space, identity, form, and structure. In her entwined process of meditation and making, she attempts to disrupt the binary that limits and informs our preconceptions of physicality and being. She interweaves bodily material, fiber, and textile to form a systematized language and concretize the abstract. Tan Zi Hao (b. 1989, Kuala Lumpur) is an artist, writer, and researcher. His idea has taken shape across a diverse range of works involving soil ecology, language politics, interpretive etymology, mythical chimeras, and organic assemblages from carrier shells (the Xenophoridae family) to household casebearers (Phereoeca spp). Most of his artworks are conceived with an ideological intention to challenge essentialism by privileging the assemblage. Tan has recently completed his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. He also holds an MA degree in International Relations and a BA degree in International Communications Studies from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. His recent exhibitions include What’s Left for Gathering, Mutual Aid Projects, Kuala Lumpur, 2021; Wawasan 2020: Townhall, Tun Perak Co-Op, Kuala Lumpur, 2020; Rasa Sayang, A+ Works of Art, Kuala Lumpur, 2019; The Horizon is Just an Illusion: New Thoughts on Landscape, OUR ArtProjects, Kuala Lumpur, 2018, among others. Isola Tong (Pasay City, Libra Fire Rabbit) is an artist, architect and babaylan, interested in queer and trans theories that cut across ethnography, biology, architecture, urbanism, history and technobiopolitics. She explores the interdependencies and intimacies of holobionts and their entanglement with history and the built environment. Her work spans across a variety of media portraying a divergence from anthropocentrism towards interconnected multiscalar agencies. She graduated cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture. She also studied and worked in Osaka, Japan for four years. She has shown in Korea, Slovenia, Serbia and the United Kingdom. She currently teaches architectural design, theory, philosophy and history at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde School of Design and the Arts in Manila.
Yim Yen Sum (b. 1987, Malaysia) received a diploma in Fine Art from Dasein Academy of Art (2008), where she began her practice of stitching together her work. She predominantly works with textiles when creating her ever-evolving installations and explores the concepts of relationships and interconnectivity between us as a society, and our practices and interactions with our environment. Yen Sum’s works reflect hours of incredibly delicate, worked through units of gauze that has undergone a process of manipulation, including screen printing and appliqué. Yen Sum has participated in exhibitions locally (National Art Gallery, 2017) and internationally (Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan, 2017; The Pier-2 Art Center, Taiwan, 2016). Yen Sum is the recipient of United Overseas Bank (UOB)’s Painting of The Year Award, 2016 and recently participated in Biennale Jogja XV Equator, 2019. Carlos Quijon, Jr. (b. 1989) is an art historian, critic, and curator based in Manila. He is a fellow of the research platform Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia (MAHASSA), convened by the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories project. He writes exhibition reviews for Artforum and Frieze. His research is part of the book From a History of Exhibitions Towards a Future of Exhibition-Making (Sternberg Press, 2019). He has published in MoMA’s post (US), Queer Southeast Asia, ArtReview Asia (Singapore), Art Monthly (UK), Asia Art Archive’s Ideas (HK), and Trans Asia Photography Review (US), among others. He is an alumnus of the Ateneo National Writers Workshop in Manila and the inaugural Para Site Workshops for Emerging Professionals in Hong Kong in 2015 and was a scholar participant of the symposium “How Institutions Think” hosted by LUMA Foundation in Arles, France in 2016. In 2017, he was a research resident in MMCA Seoul and a fellow of the Transcuratorial Academy both in Berlin and Mumbai. He curated Courses of Action in Hong Kong in 2019, A will for prolific disclosures in Manila, Figure-proof in Kuala Lumpur, and co-curated Minor Infelicities in Seoul in 2020. Most recently, he co-curated the exhibition In Our Best Interests: AfroSoutheast Asia Affinities during a Cold War (afrosoutheastasia.com) in Singapore in 2021.
Gravity Art Space and A + Works of Art would like to thank the following individuals for their support and contribution to this publication and exhibition: Jaykie Peñaflor Silverlens Galleries Aminah Ibrahim Allain Zedrick Camiling Gian Carlo Delgado Dean Michael Ramos Patrick Flores Mayumi Hirano Yoji Ben John Sy
cover images front:
Gary-Ross Pastrana, Fellen (detail), 2017, skin, glue, make up and acrylic box, 50 × 50 × 15 cm
back: Yim Yen Sum, The Floating Island (detail), 2020, embroidery on gauze, gauze dyed in acrylic, 128 × 80 cm
Copyright © 2021 Gravity Art Space, and A+ Works of Art. All rights reserved. All articles and illustrations contained in this catalogue are subject to copyright law. Any use beyond the narrow limited defined by copyright law, and without the express of the publisher, is forbidden and will be prosecuted.
Gravity Art Space 1810 Mother Ignacia Avenue Diliman, Quezon City Philippines.
A+ Works of Art d6 - G - 8, d6 Trade Centre 801 Jalan Sentul 51000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
+63 923 145 5719 firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook/Instagram: @gravityartspace
+60 18 333 3399 email@example.com Facebook/Instagram: @aplusart.asia www.aplusart.asia
Gravity Art Space (GAS) is a space for contemporary art founded by artist Indy Paredes in 2021. It is situated along Mother Ignacia Avenue in Quezon City, a city that is home to a dynamic community of artists, art workers, and art supporters. The word “gravity” in the space’s name speaks to the weight it grants to artistic process and how this is grounded by the collaborative relationships between the space, artists, curators, and its public. Just like the force of gravity, while these aspects of exhibition-making and programming are not always remarked, they are always part of GAS’s consideration and what makes the space’s existence possible and its programs worthwhile. Working with a network of co-artists and colleagues of this generation, Gravity Art Space aims to become a collaborative space for companions and contemporaries and a hub for productive discussions, exhibitions, and discoveries in art.
A+ Works of Art is a contemporary art gallery based in Kuala Lumpur, with a geographic focus on Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Founded in 2017 by Joshua Lim, the gallery presents a wide range of contemporary practices, from painting to performance, drawing, sculpture, new media art, photography, video and installation. Its exhibitions have showcased diverse themes and approaches, including material experimentation and global conversations on social issues. Collaboration is key to the ethos of A+ Works of Art. Since its opening, the gallery has worked with artists, curators, writers, collectors, galleries and partners from within the region and beyond, and continues to look out for new collaborations. The gallery name is a play on striving for distinction but also on the idea that art is never without context and is always reaching to connect — it is always “plus” something else.
Gravity Art Space and A+ Works of Art