Artinformal’s “Becoming Trees” Does More than Talk About Coping

Becoming Trees. “The new normal” just doesn’t imply the body as succinctly as the exhibition title of Artinformal’s latest. Not in the way we, too, have planted ourselves in our patches of earth, have had our bodies twist, harden, and gnarl to fit our surroundings.

It’s a singular experience, a theme of sorts that the gallery’s online special exhibition (viewable until June 8, 2020) keeps close to heart. Works of thirteen artists, each of whom have been rooted in one place for the last two months, come with personal annotations—notes, anecdotes, thoughts—that show how one’s private preoccupations are not the same in a time of global crisis. Despite calls for the end of the world, many of us are not short of days when the attendant doom seems less impending. As we fluctuate between daily drudgery and global emergency, in so slow a manner that it can feel, at times, awkward (when not uncertain), it is a testament to the efficacy of their art that we become able to observe that,

Offered are an array of angles on what we may have too quickly set aside as givens. On monotony, Tosha Albor’s “Infinite imprint / Many worlds” is the outcome of discovering the dynamism within it: the process of iterative mark-making and erasing behind her graphite pieces visualizes the thread between forgetting and remembering, and how this dialectical relationship makes way for something new. For Maya Muñoz, who has had to wake up to the same view of Mount Mayon since returning to her hometown, she considers the volcano she had to draw countless times before now “as a kind of Sisyphean rock,” she writes. “What to do with the rock but fall in love with it.” For Monica Delgado, it was in creating “What I Learned from Darwin” that constituted her break from listlessness.

Witnessing the different lived experiences of the thirteen artists in Artinformal’s Becoming Trees, through their art and words, provides a welcome view into the interior. They can also take you out of it. “Forced Passage 1-9” by JC Jacinto highlights the material used: plastiglomerates, a composite of debris and molten plastic, and the dangerous implications in how it is considered a legitimate geological occurrence. The wet plate collodion works in Raena Abella’s “Ordinary People” honor the Filipino workers who put themselves at risk to support their families. After all, entailed in becoming a tree is to have our roots dig deep into the earth, to be entangled in an ecosystem that, suddenly, is no longer something we can avoid.

Artinformal’s Becoming Trees continues until June 8, 2020. The full roster comprises artists Raena Abella, Tosha Albor, Salvador Joel Alonday, Brisa Amir, Jan Balquin, Nice Buenaventura, Monica Delgado, JC Jacinto, Maya Muñoz, Michelle Peréz, Christina Quisimbing Ramilo, Elaine Roberto-Navas, and Costantino Zicarelli. Click 
here to start.

Cartellino Bird Woman
Salvador Joel Alonday. “The Bird Woman.” Acrylic and charcoal on canvas. 32.68 x 28.74 in / 83 x 73 cm. 2020.
Cartellino Ordinary people
Raena Abella. “Ordinary People 2.” Ambrotype, wet-plate positive collodion on glass. 10 x 8 in / 25.4 x 20.3 cm. 2020.

Anchor photo: Tosha Albor. “Infinite imprint / Many worlds Part I” (detail). Graphite on paper. 30 x 22 in / 76.2 x 55.8 cm (unframed); 31 x 23 in / 78.7 x 58.4 cm (approx. framed). 2020.

All images courtesy the artists and Artinformal.