Monday, November 16, 2009

PHOTO 'RELEASE' ] Isa Lorenzo blows off steam, Rachel Rillo brings it down to size

isaEmpress, and Infinity, both Isa Lorenzo, 2009

Tomorrow, two photography shows open at the Silverlens art spaces: Isa Lorenzo's Release at 20square and Rachel Rillo's Grain at Silverlens.

Largely a physical reaction to her time as a recipient of the Japan Foundation Jenesys Program Creator-in-Residence at Tokyo Wonder Site, Release explores the underside of the Japanese cultural identity – one that prioritizes homogeneity and conformity - and probes human expressions for “letting one’s hair down,” and “blowing off steam.”

Using the Philippines as her reference point, the artist observed that the assimilated group identity in Japan supersedes the individual’s identity. They have a saying: the nail that sticks out is hammered hardest. As a reaction to societal homogeneity, their “expressions for releasing control are extreme in Japan through subcultures—fetish, cosplay, and wota. As the title suggests, my work for this show takes off from this premise of releasing control,” says Lorenzo.

Eternal-Return,-2009Eternal Return, Isa Lorenzo, 2009

The photograms in Release are from printed material ubiquitous to public spaces: tear sheets, exhibition flyers, performance advertising. They are layered aesthetically and printed correctly with the corresponding tonalities. Half of the pieces in Release, she leaves unaltered. They remain controlled. The other half, she disrupts the perfect layering and printing by using micro explosives - a release control from the darkroom.

Followers of Lorenzo’s work will notice that each piece is titled with a word or two – a marked departure from her pattern of leaving works numbered or dated. Lorenzo says, “the series is a set of traditional and universal symbols but are also personal talismans to move ahead in life”. Release is a collective set of accidents and mistakes, of images disrupted, of spontaneous signifiers.

This show is made possible with support from the Japan Foundation, Manila.

rachelBuddha, and Ganesh, both photographs Rachel Rillo.

Rachel Rillo's latest work is a meditation on paring things down to their material source: plaster, wood, plastic. Objects photographed are small figures that are visual representations of something real. With the use of light alone, Rillo intentionally alters and deletes backgrounds and other contextual hints. Size, the environment and any other relationship the object photographed could have outside of the material from which it is made and what it symbolizes has been negated.

“Photographically, this particular work was a challenge because I had to get rid of all clues surrounding the object. The task was to make the photographs as minimal as I could get them to be without touching them up but altering them with only light,” says Rillo.

racheHouse 1, House 2, House 4, all Rachel Rillo.

Grain is a glimpse into the quiet truths in the most basic of equations. A cube with a triangular top is instantly a symbol of a house. A rounded figure on a shaft is a bust symbolizing a human form.

There are installations of photographs of religious iconography paired with a small plastic bag of ground, melted, pulverized, and pulped material. Assuming that the bag holds part of the subject, the photographer posts the questions: Has the idol, icon, or symbol lost its meaning? Is it sacrilege? Is it a gram of dirt or a holy gram?

Grain is a meditation on the elusive gestures of form and material - the nuanced expression, the violent confrontation, the abandoned and scarred. It is a reflection of the disjunctive spaces between symbolism and spirituality, memory and possession.

Release by Isa Lorenzo opens at 6 pm in 20Square, Slab Gallery, and Rillo's Grain opens at Silverlens tomorrow, November 18, Wednesday and runs until December 12, 2009.

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