Home Ground: Remembering As Empty Souvenir
Two years ago, Sarah M. Geneblazo (a graduate of Angono’s Regional Lead School for the Arts and UP College of Fine Arts and secretary of Neo-Angono Artists Collective) held her last solo exhibit titled “Woman House” in which we saw images inside the house as symbols of “fragmented and broken past, a home that seems to be haunted but abloom with flowers” as we have seen in each portrait of her siblings hanging on the wall.
Sarah’s “Home Ground” exhibit today serves as sequel to “Woman House”. But unlike in her previous exhibit, we now only see a young woman clad in white sleeveless dress which women usually wear before going to sleep or when just at home, alone in the garden or forest, quietly enjoying and cherishing the scent of flowers around her.
Sarah uses only minimal images – the young woman, garden/forest and common furniture one finds inside the house like chair, table, bed, mirror and cabinet.
We find in Sarah’s seven paintings a young woman as central image, who is kneeling, sitting, walking, her arms outstretched, and standing behind her back, which for audience/viewers, evokes distancing as she moves deeper in the garden or forest.
But what is striking and surprising is that the geography of the garden or forest where the young woman finds herself resembles or follows the contours and shapes of different household furniture the young woman sees and encounters in her house everyday.
This is where Sarah reveals the tension and contradiction.
Sarah’s paintings allude to the young lady’s effort and desire to find healing, freedom, and to forget and leave her past which was certainly stressful and traumatic. The young lady’s dry, frizzy, zigzag and uncombed hair symbolizes two things: that the young woman has been harassed or abused, the source of her nightmare; and that this nightmare finds its corrective stimulus and healing during her dream, as if she has just awaken from her sleep and finds herself amid green, luscious forest filled with flowers, the source of her strength and comfort.
However, the attempt of the young woman to renew and overcome her traumatic past is stunted as she finds herself again bounded and her movements constricted.
We can deduce here, therefore, that the young woman’s physical, mental, and emotional trauma were caused by forces or people inside the house or her immediate environment as symbolized by furniture and the young lady’s dress. It is highly evident also that the young woman here has experienced abuse not only once but twice, as Sarah gives us a hint in one of the paintings that shows the young woman standing between two men, in which we can trace the outline of their face.
In her search for self-revision, did the young woman find healing in the garden, a sort of paradise or utopia? No. Because as what the furniture symbolize, she has to go back to the house and face the reality.
But this does not spell defeat.
In “Woman House,” we saw flowers for individual symbolizing personal awakening. In “Home Ground,” the garden of flowers suggests the young lady has emboldened, found enough but still insufficient courage, as the flowers “grow out of dark moments.” The location of the young woman, which Sarah placed prominently on the foreground of the canvas, also suggests that the young woman’s fate is on her hands and actions.
In “Home Ground,” Sarah tells us that the process of healing a wounded past is the struggle to forget; and that forgetting is the art of remembering as empty souvenir.
-Richard R. Gappi
October 25, 2016
Angono 3/7 Poetry Society
Venus Compound, Angono, Rizal