Nathalie Dagmang 2010-24702 BFA Sculpture Individual Reflection paper 2: Lupa and President’s Office The exhibits

Lupa: The Struggle for Land and President’s Office are reflective of the participating artists’ response to the current (and recurring) issues. Lupa, an exhibit which was said to be a follow-up initiative to the exhibit Kapital: Tribute to Labor in 2010 also at Vargas Museum, narrates and comments on the issues related to Land, such as land grabbing, natural resource plunder, underpaid land workers, and the poverty and struggle that had rose from these problems. It does not focus only on the role of the Filipino Elite, but also of the colonizers who have also entered the scene and has been taking part since in the exploiting of the natives and their lands. The Philippine’s geography made it rich in natural resources. Its archipelagic nature, its nourished soil (plus the numerous volcanoes that gave further nourishment to the soils) and its rich marine biodiversity made it appealing to the eyes of the colonizers, and even our fellow Filipinos who had the power to gather and control these resources. The greed of the colonial and native elites created a struggle between the workers and the “controllers” which lasted until today and is still being addressed by the Philippine art in the contemporary times. The rise in India of one of the earliest civilizations in the world can also be greatly credited to the country’s geography. The strategical location of the Himalayas served as a natural protective barrier at the northern border of India. The river-valley of Indus River sustained the Indus/Harappan civilization, one of the world’s earliest urban civilization. The abundance of natural resources enabled the city to undergo developments in technologies like architecture and water regulation as seen from the citadel area found in Mohenjo-Daro. This structure may have also served as a government centre, which was needed to maintain order within the newly formed civilization. Waters that surrounded the subcontinent also gave way to maritime trade and the influx of foreign influences, which added to the diversity of Indian culture, and variations in cultural expressions in art. Natural divisions, like the Vindhya hills which served as a natural division between North and South India, may have contributed to the rise of different regional styles. The arrival of the nomadic Aryans introduced technologies such as the chariot and Sanskrit language and philosophies and religious practices. They brought to the country their sacred writings, Vedas), the hierarchical social order and the practice of fire sacrifice. These philosophical and religious ideas gave rise to religious communities in India. The religions Buddhism, Junism and Hinduism were greatly influenced by the Vedic culture. These religions stimulated the production of art in India. The Indians’ religious beliefs were expressed through forms of art like literature (epics like Ramayana), sculpture and frescoes of religious images, structures like the Stupa, and performance (music and dance). Under the rule of Ashoka, Buddhism was expanded throughout India. He built pillars with inscriptions of the rules of dharma and a capital with forms from the Buddhist religion. These pillars served as guides to Buddhist pilgrims, while supporting Ashoka’s propaganda to spread Buddhism and establish his power. Other monarchs also used the building of temples for their favoured diety to compete with each other. In the exhibit President’s office, the artists tried to depict a public space which is ironically the setting of private operations done by those seated inside. These operations are hidden in secrecy by rules of confidentiality, national security, physical boundaries outside the palace and controlled public image of the president. These ‘security’ procedures somehow create a division between the now private space of the president’s office and the public space of the common Filipino.

The stupa also serves as a division between 2 spaces: the physical/material world and the spiritual world, as symbolized by the railings that surround the structure. Like the president’s office, this structure is a place for private worship. People are obliged to “worship” those who are seated inside: the president, his/her allies, and the other rulers from the outside, who also somehow controls the government. The secret happenings inside the office is imagined by the artist and revealed these in their works. In Indian art, like in many other religions, the supernatural beings are also concretized through art, to be able to show what the “naked” eye can’t see.

Sources: Notes from Lupa: Struggle for Land and President’s Office exibit, Vargas Museum Stokstad, Chapter 9

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