Mise en (Matched) Scene

Alwin Reamillo

June 5 - June 28, 2014

Gallery 1

Mise en (matched) scene is an ensemble of reworked and recent mixed media pieces, comprising of found and previously used objects: matched, reconfigured and re-animated within a box format, but in a way that exceeds the limits of the box. The format and layout reminds one of an apothecary of herbs and anting-antings or amulets which in traditional Filipino worldview function as aids to rituals performed by the albularyo, the Filipino healer. Aimed at smoothing blocked energy flows (bara), aligning mis-aligned energy channels (pilay), balancing imbalances in musculature (pasma), flushing out toxins and expelling wind and cold (hilo, hangin, lamig), the albularyo mobilizes a range of methods – from bulong (whispers), to “hilot” (“massage”), to incantations (dasal), to prescribing herbs.

Alwin Reamillo’s artistic vocabulary partakes of the itinerant albularyo’s methods, aiming to “doctor” or “mend the broken relationship between image and meaning” through a process he calls “skin grafting/rebuilding/reconstructing/reconnecting.” A found archival photo for instance will be replicated, reproduced in variable sizes ( as mirror photocopy prints ) then manually transferred/ relocated to a new ground/ body ( re-used timber, constructed objects, found objects like bone or crab shell) – perhaps like a form of skin grafting that combines found historical and iconic images with the new; the digital (enlarging, adjusting tones, reproducing) and the traditional (‘cut and paste’ actions of collage). Once transferred, these grafted images in parts or whole are allowed to settle /’ heal ‘ its new ground for some time before new elements from elsewhere are grafted again in the picture plane, giving rise to alternative narratives and histories. This ‘surgical’ transfer becomes a “meditation on both the original context of the image and new ground where it is transferred, animating a new mise en scene, ” the artist says. In the process, these disconnected relationship between disparate images, meanings and contexts is sutured, or “doctored,” (dinuduktor) in a new site of healing as he puts it.

These doctored and grafted fragments – in their constructed and found places of display ( wooden suitcases, giant matchboxes, miniature retablos/ altars, boxed frames, chinese scroll paintings ) – collide and mingle in dynamic, unstable and bizarre combinations, conjured intuitively and playfully. Rather than a polished product, the artist’s mis-en-scene of animated, mis/matched and matchboxed objects is constantly on the move, unfinished, multi-layered, always on the verge of the next experimental step and continuously passing over a threshold rather than arriving on an exact and definite destination, resisting integration into a coherent narrative. Forgotten, overlooked, presumed dead and of little value, the objects come alive through an alchemical process that ignites and transforms them into potent substances with renewed value and meaning. In breathing life into objects and infusing them with spirits through mending, suturing, re-constructive layerings -akin to the albularyo’s hilot, bulong, and dasal – the object ceases to be a noun, a product, a collector’s item, as Jeannette Winterson wrote. It is an active verb, an agent of change and hope. In a world haunted by illness, the object objects.-