Open Season


A problem with taking up violence as subject in art is that violence has become common. In these times of ideological, religious, domestic and personal wars, the harrowing images of death and conflict are almost standard issue in the news and broadcast media.  In the meantime, similar images are copiously tweaked for music and entertainment, fashion merchandising and even political promotion. It is no longer irreverent to show spectacular violence or stylish death.  Still, the phenomenon of violence resonates strongly through the ages because it reminds us of our own wounds.  So that despite and perhaps because of the prospective banality of such images, artists continue to brave approaches in expressing ideas about it, more so when informed by personal experience.

This exhibition is a culmination of more than a yearlong endeavor that was precipitated by a personal tragedy.  Informed by her practice that includes photography and time-based media, the artist, instead of dramatically depicting violence, chose to focus on the dynamics of the infliction, with the following elements: the instrument of violence, the mode, the target, and the effect of the hit – as if to show the visceral perspective.

Images of guns, ammunition, spaces, targets, explosions, repeated across diverse media such as painting, mixed media, participative and video installation, and photography, alludes to the slowing of real time allowing us to see the elements and increments – the moments before and during the impact; to echo the iconic time-lapse photographic sequence of a bullet fired from a handgun, traveling through space and then hitting an inflated balloon causing it to disintegrate; to correlatively show, what is by chance only rarely possible in, let alone to survive from to retell it, the act of violence itself.

In these works, the victims of violence are mere suggestions, and where depicted, a trace. This is expedient to the artist’s approach – to focus, which is to frame.  And, as Susan Sontag has said about taking photographs in Regarding The Pain Of Others: to frame is to exclude.  In this case, with the exclusion, a space is opened up for our sensibilities to imbibe, not the spectacle of violence but the experience.  Suspiciously, the strategy is for experience to translate easier to empathy, making the healing of our own wounds more bearable.

Leo Abaya