Failed Taxonomies

Dengcoy Miel

July 7 - August 6, 2022




All things exist in preordained hierarchies that are by-products of an evolutionary conceit, perhaps initiated by a prehistoric chordate whose eyes have seen the actual face of god. All that can be seen from hence onward are classified within this top/down diminution, of descaling/upscaling the significance of humans, animalia, objects or ideas in purely economic, social, cultural and political import. These values are assigned by men and women with sometimes questionable temperaments. The survivalist with the most means will appropriate the role of a benefactor in that pyramid of wants and desires. The cosmic hold of an invisible force over skin, muscle and bone is found within the panoptic gaze and structure of religion, of colonizers, oppressors and of demagogues. Classifications, however, can be questioned, countered, even reassessed. It is in this manner, in this Derridean sense, of things being unresolved, too, that we lay the conceptual direction of these paintings, these Failed Taxonomies.


Additionally, there are two subtopics pervading these works : The evolved, near random isolation of the artist and/or the individual, and the evolved, near random isolation of the hero, or the sublime entity. Three works delve into the former, three ruminate on the latter. Kwarantin, with its tedious repetition of the cement block, serves to introduce and heighten the feeling of confinement during the recent lockdown, a state of affairs arguably triggered by an abovementioned random evolutionary conceit. Those Strange Echoes In Thy Mortal Bones is a self portrait ( painted a year into the pandemic) that mirrors, along with the other three paintings in this suite, a reclining figure, saddled by ennui and the severe existential threat from the covid-19 scourge. Watching the World Burn: A Self Portrait, evolves formal tactics from these two previous iterations and appropriates the aesthetics of the grid, analogous to a brick wall, but now elaborated as a cabinet of curiosities. What is displayed inside these niches are not the usual display of material evidence of an elevated socioeconomic status but, rather, as a result of the torpor of isolation, pessimistically synthesized relics from a worst possible world.


Mga Hindi Pumasang Kristo tries to quantify this dialogic noise about the verifiable Christ, his looks, his height, his real self. Was he really a white man with blonde hair and blue eyes? Was he really that perfect? May bad breath kaya siya? Nangungulangot din ba siya? God’s Comic tries to approximate this futile and laughable attempt by men to match God’s pain by going his way, in the most physical sense, partaking of his dolorous path to the cross which somehow negates the whole concept of absolution from sin which Christ has already undertaken. Closer to Filipino aspirational figures, Rizal in the Land of Lilimut is about this Giant among Filipinos whose teachings are forgotten and whose books are largely unread in this heavily TikTok-ed world. The real question is whether we really deserve our heroes. Maybe, a parting question to accompany us away from this show is, do we deserve our self-defined and self-inflicted taxonomies?


DengCoy Miel