Time Is a Medium in Mars Bugaoan’s “Appear Disappear 1/2 1/4”

  • by Jose Naval

Uploaded for online view just last April 2, 2020, is Mars Bugaoan’s Appear Disappear 1/2 1/4 available as an album on the artist’s Facebook page.

Presented by Kapitana Gallery, Balay ni Tana Dicang, the exhibition marks the resolution of the artist’s time in Talisay, Negros, care of the ABungalow Artists’ Residency Program and Adrian Lizares. 

As the exhibition notes by Koki suggest, the display is the artist’s visual remark on time, its shifting speeds and processes, and how his musings on the rural idyll are distilled in the distinct nature, shape, and form of the musa banana leaf. Named after a child’s game, Appear Disappear 1/2 1/4 easily reminds us of how quickly time passes when one has fun. Yet, through the 32-second video piece, “Under The Same Star,” time takes on a cold measure. The circle of banana leaves, at first in natural, immaculate green yellows and shrinks over an eight-day timeframe, highlighting the precarity of the composition.

The artist’s play with time continues in different twists and turns throughout the exhibit. Plastic recreations of the banana leaf on wrought chicken wire come to take on more sprawling, distorted shapes, cutting across the viewers’ screens in contained riots of color. In contrast, “On The Same Surface,” a folded stack of manila papers, all of which feature the same pattern maintain a collected order. As we click, scroll, and double back, a dynamism registers, overtaking our own sense of time for one of many pulses. 

It’s that notion of precarity—how something is until it’s not—that draws close associations in Bugaoan’s playful overlapping of motifs: in considerations of time, the levity of cut leaves, the flexibility of plastic, and the potential shapes of chicken wire when crumpled and bent. The familiar take on abstract qualities in the hands of Bugaoan, as we view the bricoleur negotiate with mediums to do what they were not meant to, all to say something more.

Exhibition view of Appear Disappear 1/2 1/4.
Cartellino B2 Detail
B2 (detail). Wire mesh and plastic. 2020.
Cartellino Don Salvador Benedicto Landscape
Don Salvador Benedicto Landscape (detail). Wire mesh and plastic. 39.75 x 48 in. 2020.
Anchor photo: Under The Same Star (After 12 Days). Rubbercut print on banana leaves. 2020.
All images courtesy the artist.