THE INTRICACIES of the world we navigate are difficult to convey, whether they exist largely in our heads or are at full force in the environment in which we move around. At the NCCA Gallery, visual and multi-sensorial representations of the chaos of the mind and of urban landscapes are on display.
Titled “The Artist Is Alive,” contemporary artist Jasper Hannah Castro’s very first exhibit uses paintings, music, and sound to divulge both the scars and triumphs reflecting her experience of bipolar disorder.
Meanwhile, “Animated_Landscape” is sound artist Jett Ilagan’s exhibit that presents Manila’s sonic landscape through graphical notations — from busy streets to modes of transportation — visually communicating its urban rhythms.
These two featured artists were chosen a year ago under the Exhibition Grants Program of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), giving them the chance to execute their concepts. “My goal is empathy. People think if you get diagnosed [with bipolar disorder], life will end. Though it’s not a death sentence, it is a struggle and it is hard. I think that’s why there are more pieces that are sad than happy,” Ms. Castro said during the exhibit’s launch on June 7.
She plays with multiple forms to explore the nuances of the bipolar experience within the context of a gallery space. The poetry, music, and artworks bare her innermost thoughts, including swear words and sexual content.
Jokingly, she shared that her goal is for people to be moved to tears as they immerse themselves throughout the space.
“Those are the parts we try to hide but it’s also during those times we get to form really close relationships. If everyone was in tiptop shape and amazing with no vulnerabilities, we wouldn’t have a reason to depend on each other,” said Ms. Castro.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ilagan’s installation portrays the soundscape of Metro Manila based on recordings he took while cycling or during his commute. The abstract result conveys how challenging it is to move in the city.
“Each artwork is a different location in Metro Manila, like along Pasig River or right by the train. But instead of having sound works or audible works, I chose to explore visual works related to sound,” he said.
Because of his background as a music producer and sound artist, Mr. Ilagan felt that depicting the complex sonic environment through graphical notations was “an extension of his body of work.”
“It’s part of the exploration. I don’t consider it as a separate practice, but a result of my overall experience,” he explained.
The NCCA regularly offers exhibition space for artists to push the boundaries of their creative expression, with all curatorial support services covered.
“The Artist is Alive” and “Animated_Landscapes” are on view at the NCCA Gallery in Intramuros, Manila, until June 30. — Brontë H. Lacsamana