By ALISHA DANIELLE M. GREGORIO
ONE OF the essential lessons taught to Filipino students as early as elementary is the history of war in the Philippines and the world. Most people know their basic Philippine history and their respective effects on the world we live in today.
Filipino artist Eric Zamuco decided to shed some light into the notion of war, alongside different elements in an exhibit titled “Almost Not.” On display from Aug. 16 to Sept. 16, the exhibit stars chromed military jackets turned stretchers made of leather, each displayed alongside another artistic element to provide uniqueness.
The piece Anthem is a chromed military stretcher mostly consisting of leather and is built through the support of chords and wood. The entire piece is hung on the wall whilst accompanied by two speakers on opposite sides. These speakers are covered with fabric produced with an inkjet print. No sound was coming out of the speakers, only silence; like death as it is always defined as dark and quiet, where mourning and no sound is to be emitted.
Breathe is another piece that is also a chromed military stretcher made of leather and chords that is leaning against the wall. A unique characteristic of this creation is that it includes a breast pump positioned at the base of the stretcher while being covered in more leather. This is a rather mind-boggling piece because how could a breast pump possibly bear relation to something as dark and morbid as a military stretcher? A young infant that uses a breast pump is very different to a soldier on a gurney, it could possibly aim to show that life is a lot shorter than one can expect.
A rather interesting component takes the form of the third piece titled Visible. It looks similar to the previous creation and the entire piece is also hung on the wall with wooden and metal support, but the middle portion of the stretcher contains an LED light shining faint white rays onto the middle area of the stretcher, illuminating a small portion of it. Almost as if amidst the dark symbolism that the stretcher bears are overpowered by a small ray of light trying to direct one’s attention onto a deeper, alternate meaning.
Time is always something people take for granted, and in the concept of war, it is a privilege not all people have the luxury of having. Another piece is titled Seed, which also bears the components of all the other military stretchers. But what makes it different is that it is laid flat on the ground with a tall metal rod positioned on the stretcher in a vertically upright manner. The rod spins slowly as if it is a clock, making a full circle only to continue spinning again.
Lastly, the piece titled Repulse is a little different from the others, in the sense that the chromed stretcher is laid on the floor with the leather neatly scattered around the stretcher. Then a small opening can be seen in the middle of the stretcher where a small monitor is playing a 9-minute looped silent video showing various forms of almost abstract art. No bright colors can be seen, just dark shapes. It is almost as if the monitor is not meant to be seen as it is hidden well beneath the pieces of leather.
Zamuco’s exhibit aims to show the lives of military soldiers during the time of war. Although looking dreary, dark, and gloomy on the outside with the dark colors making up the military field gurney stretchers, there are also other elements to be considered that can change the medium and the meaning of an artwork through variety as well as to avoid stereotypical art. He associates these stretchers with other components that redefine the life of a soldier. These items suggest something more than an accessory to a symbol of death, but they also contribute a sign of liveliness amid darkness, and how sometimes they could be associated with things despite being completely different. F