States of the Arts


Untitled [2015]

by Maria Taniguchi

View an image of the artwork →

A giant canvas is propped against the wall in front of us: three metres tall, five and a half across, every centimetre coated in acrylic paint. Judging the work via only a cursory glance or a low-resolution photograph, we would likely mistake it for a uniform, slate-hued sheet. If we take a closer look, though, its details soon surface. It consists not of a single shade, but of thousands of rectangular cells, each of which represents one brick. The grid’s many gradations, achieved by mixing the acrylic with varying amounts of water, alert us to the overlooked idiosyncrasies that can be found in seemingly samey structures.

Words by John Wadsworth

Elegy to the Visitor from the Revolution

directed by Lav Diaz
Feature film

View a still from the film →

While most Lav Diaz creations stretch out for hours, Elegy to the Visitor lasts a concise eighty minutes. Much of what we see unfolds across a series of static shots, the camera pausing on subjects for several minutes at a time, allowing us to drink in the details of each scene. Silver smoke is scattered by sodium lighting. Wet tarmac makes for monochrome reflections. Domestic objects become distorted under our prolonged observation. We follow a woman who, plucked from the Philippine Revolution at the close of the nineteenth century, finds herself in the present day. The film's extended meditations suggest the loss and disjunctions that greet her in the modern setting.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

Vendor of Sweets

by Ma. Luisa Aguilar-Cariño

View an image of the poet →

The midday sun beats down on Manila, but you must bear the heat; you have an errand to run. A woman squats by Harrison Plaza, displaying a ‘syllabary of wild roots / and charms’. You approach her wordlessly, but your appearance speaks on your behalf: the blush of cheeks, the new ring on your finger. A fleeting gesture of hand across navel aids her understanding. Wishing to hasten the course of nature, you leave with a ‘twist of dry leaves’ and some ‘fibrous bark’. Each night thereafter begins with a small, hopeful ritual, which segues into a scene in which ‘tendrils of hair quicken’ and hearts race.

Words by John Wadsworth

Ang Huling El Bimbo

by Eraserheads

View an image of the group →

An ensemble of two electric guitars, bass, and drums weave together a hazy texture, crafted into a simple chord scheme. This harmonic progression loops; its first cycle rides on the bell of a cymbal, while round two carries a little more energy. But then, where the third spin would be expected, the band fades. A guitar lick has the last say, and then a vocalist enters alone. He offers fond reminiscences, images flickering by along with the words: an old flame, a beautiful actress, captivating dances. As the lines drift past, the dreamy soundworld of the opening jam returns. Infused with the nostalgic lyrics, the instruments add colour to their sweet recollections.

Words by Hugh Maloney

More to discover

Untitled [2015]: Visit Maria Taniguchi’s website here. James Cahill has written about the artist for Apollo Magazine. Christina Chua has interviewed Taniguchi for The Artling, as has Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula.

Elegy to the Visitor from the Revolution: Henri de Corinth has written about the film for Mubi.

Vendor of Sweets: Read the poem here.

Ang Huling El Bimbo: Listen to the song here. Paolo Reyes has written about Eraserheads for The National.

Question of the day

Which Philippine artworks would you recommend, and why?
Let us know on FacebookPatreon, or Twitter.

Impunity, a photo essay series by Patricia Evangelista and Carlo Gabuco. Hard-hitting, heartbreakingly unbearable journalism at its absolute finest. (→)

–Áine Mangaoang, musicologist at the University of Oslo (via The Brief →)

Akashaalay, an album by Low Leaf. A beat-driven homage to Pilipinas. ‘As One’ is required listening for its expert fusion of blues meets dream pop over infectious piano riffs. (→)

–Áine Mangaoang, musicologist at the University of Oslo (via The Brief →)


Also on Silent Frame