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PLOT Public Art Project launched

(March 26)—Three site-specific installations at the UP Vargas Museum Garden also known as the UP Sculpture Garden comprised of ropes with sounding cans, a red house cloaked with mirror on all sides and an inhabitable tree house atop a sturdy tree were unveiled to the public on March 15.

Collectively known as the PLOT Public Art Project (PLOT), the installations were created by artists Luis “Junyee” E. Yee Jr., Reginald Yuson and Leeroy New.

PLOT “aims to map the continuity in three and multi-dimensional art practice in Philippine art by selecting artists that represent its significant periods. Set in greenery adjacent to the Vargas Museum, this project underscores the possibility of revitalizing public space; opening it up to interaction and exchange with a broader public,” explained Prof. Tessa Maria Guazon, a faculty of the Department of Arts Studies and PLOT project’s curator.

Guazon said the three artists were chosen for the project because their works “represent significant shifts in sculpture, site-specific pieces, installation works, commissioned and otherwise in the context of Philippine art.”

Junyee's work
(Photo by Eric Guazon

A pioneer of site-specific art in the Philippines, Junyee’s installation of ropes with sounding cans which he entitled Dissecting Space with Sound and Silence, “illustrates his sharp sense of sprawl and how best to expand or contract it by intervention through site.” The sounding cans mimic those installed in rice fields and are meant to ward off birds. At the same time, sounds from these cans are also music that help in the nourishment and flourishing of rice saplings.

Reg Yuson's work Photo by Eric Guazon

Yuson used the red house at the Sculpture Garden as part of his installation. He employed the strategy of de-familiarization by covering the structure with mirrors.

According to Guazon, the red structure which “disappeared and somehow what was once familiar but unnoticed became an absent yet significant element of the landscape. From when the mirrors went up, passers-by descended to the garden to play before their reflections. Walking past, we see the entire environment doubly reflected on the mirror surface.”

Leeroy New's work
(Photo by Eric Guazon)

Meanwhile, New constructed an inhabitable tree house atop an acacia tree in the center of the garden. His piece, according to Guazon, “...demonstrates his zealous exploration of material and form. A latent organic growth underlies his projects, whether materials are natural or synthetic. New’s works speak of unbridled growth, a curious morphing into forms playful, alien, and near grotesque sometimes.”

During the program, Junyee requested for 15 volunteers from the audience to cut pieces of white cloth hanging from the ropes with tin cans and pierce the cloth on the ground using a barbeque stick.

Junyee explained the activity was just like what he did in 1970, during his first interactive exhibit in the University. He added that the activity enabled the audience “ become part of the art and have a clear memory about it that would last for a long time. It also symbolizes the Filipinos’ bayanihan spirit.”

Photo by Eric Guazon

The PLOT project was initiated by faculty of the Department of Arts Studies namely: Guazon, Louise Anne Marcelino and Manuel Kristoffer Giron. It was supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) through its Ani ng Sining 2013 Program and UPD Office of the Chancellor through the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts, in cooperation with the College of Arts and Letters’ Dean’s Office,   the Vargas Museum and Fruition Realty Corporation.

Also present during the PLOT project’s official launch were Dr. Gerard Rey A. Lico, UPD’s Campus Architect and head of the NCCA Subcommittee on Architecture and the Allied Arts; Silvana Diaz of Galeria Duemila, and artists Gus Albor, Jonah Salvosa and Eric Guazon. —H.C.P.