BY PITTING their writings with the other arts–interpretative watercolor and oil paintings to sprawling installations of fashion design and digitally-produced artworks, creative writers have proven that they know a lot more than just poetry.

Continuing the Chromatext exhibit tradition of the ‘80s, the Philippine Literary Arts Council, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, opened Chromatext Reloaded last Jan 25 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Gallery. Chromatext exhibits literary works together with interpretative artworks, achieving a dynamic fusion of the literary and artistic disciplines.

Writer Alfred Yuson, one of the curators, coordinated with some 90 Filipino writers and artists in and outside the country for this third Chromatext exhibit.

“There’s no recurring theme, it’s very eclectic,” Yuson told the Varsitarian. “You do not give a definite theme for artists and poets. In this exhibit, you’ll be surprised how many participants there were. It started out with 30; I was expecting 50 at most. As of today, we have almost 90.”

Co-curator Jean-Marie Syjuco said that the exhibit was more than two years in the making, but most of the entries came in only at the last minute.

“One of the major problems was that some contributors would say they would join the exhibit and yet they could not meet deadlines. Also, there was so much work to do, so many different mediums used, and CCP’s supplies are limited,” Syjuco said.

Vim Nadera, director of the UP Creative Writing Institute and a former editor in chief of the Varsitarian, contributed his “Parlor Pizza,” which he said came from three sacks of hair he collected through the year. He said that it was a statement against the multimillion peso industries which capitalize on hair and nails that are mere dead cells.

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The piece is connected to his second interactive contribution, “Paanyaya,” which tackles the clash between likas (nature) and likha (culture).

“There is the dichotomy between nature and culture, nature meaning ‘likas’ and man-made culture ‘likha’,” he said. “The ‘Paanyaya’ invites people to vote whether they like what was created by God or what was created by man.”

Fashion designer Lorina Javier’s installation was inspired by Nadera’s upcoming poetry book, Kayumanggi. She said that her designs serve as a prelude to a collaborative project with Nadera aiming to fuse fashion and literature.

“Most of the pieces in my installation are from the Spanish period,” Javier said, referring to her Spanish-inspired garments, innovatively hyped up with poems written on it.

Meanwhile, Radioactive Sago Project frontman and former Varsitarian literary editor Lourd Ernest de Veyra used digital technology in his video-slash-photo installation collaboration with artist Nona Garcia.

“The original concept was that it would be projected on a huge wall, but due to lack of space, we decided to make do with a small screen,” he said.

De Veyra’s contribution, “Jesus Disco DJ,” involves a video played on a small screen with headphones attached to it, where the voice of De Veyra reading his poem can be heard.

Another eye catcher is Cesare Syjuco’s Rizal exhibit,“You have Arrived Here. Please Notice the Air,” which, according to his wife Jean-Marie Syjuco, is “the perfect fusion of literature and visual arts,” or what is known as literary hybrid.

The Rizal-inspired piece consists of several media like glass, a small Rizal wood carving, paper, and text. The text is a dialogical short story in poetry form.

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Meanwhile, Filipino-American writer R. Zamora Linmark collaborated with Thomasian actor Piolo Pascual for his contribution to the exhibit.

“Linmark sent in his couplets from his forthcoming poetry collection, ‘The Evolution of A Sigh,’ and Pascual handwrote it in his magazine photos,” Sid Hildawa, also one of the curators, said. “From afar, it simply looks like an autograph, but up-close, it’s actually serious literature.”

Thomasian Angelo Suarez staged a surprise performance where he was hogtied and dragged outside of the gallery. It was done in connection with his installation, “All Readings Are Obstructed Views,” which traces its roots from Center for Creative Writing and Studies (CCWS) director Ophelia Dimalanta’s poem, “An Unobstructed View.” Suarez photocopied a blow-up of Dimalanta’s poem unto itself seven times “making the work finally a bit interesting.” He said that the performance and the installation are a tribute to unnamed writers who deserve to be read, but were not able to break into the literary scene because of norms made by the literary elite.

“There is a crowd that sets standards of goodness, and writers either have to adhere to these standards or they become part of a vast system of exclusion,” he said.

For Thomasian poet Teo Antonio, the exhibit is a revelation.

“I think it was successful because of the interaction of poetry, painting, and other forms of art. It led us to the discovery that poets are also artists,” he said.

Carlomar Daoana, a junior associate of the CCWS, said that the exhibit elevated fashion into the arts. Daoana’s contribution to the exhibit, “Notion of Marginal Bliss,” is a wedding dress he made out of construction paper, tulle and beads with an excerpt of his poem sewn onto the dress.

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“Whether you’re working with a medium like paint or words, still you can produce something articulate and something that can express who you are,” he said. “Writers too, if they really tap into their creativity, can also be photographers, visual artists and fashion designers. I encourage writers to try and branch out to other mediums of expression other than the written word.”

Hildawa, on the other hand, refers to the exhibit as a “show of marriages.”

“With this show, we try to reconcile the divide between literature and visual arts by saying that the demarcation is really a construction of society, and it’s not something that should be feared,” he said. “And like all marriages, there are degrees of success and failure. This is what the show is all about–it’s about a writing community and an artistic community coming together.”

The exhibit closed last Feb. 27.


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