Norberto Roldan (aka Peewee) moved to Kamuning, Quezon City, in 2008, after relocating Green Papaya Art Projects.
The building on the corner of Kamuning Road and T. Gener Street burned in a fire on June 3. The second floor had housed Green Papaya's archival material and the works of many artists. Much of the material was lost or damaged by fire and water.
Among the salvage are six wooden assemblages in the series 100 Altars for Roberto Chabet. Roldan had built the ziggurat structures with debris from houses, found objects, second-hand fabrics and old photographs from stores around Kamuning. For his second solo exhibition at Silverlens, he added a large base to each of the altars. Fluorescent lights fill three of the bases, spelling 'HEAT', 'FUME' and 'VOLT'.
Roldan built three new free-standing altars that stand nearly 10 feet. For the base elevation, he replaced the wooden cabinet shelves with glass tops and filled the insides with found objects and fluorescent lights.
These ziggurats tell of an imagined life anchored by a large object: a trombone flanked by obsolete cameras, a globe stacked between film reels and cameras, a slot machine topped by a row of Maneki-Neko (Lucky Cat) and the Laughing Buddha. The slot machine was a present Roldan intended to give his brother and sister-in-law, both of whom contracted Covid-19 and passed away. Fluorescent lights—spelling HUNT, UH, and IF—suffuse the ground level of each ziggurat with a red glow.
Fugitives from the Land of the Rising Sun is so-called because 10 of 14 boxes survived the June fire. Roldan had bought the fish boxes from a Japanese surplus shop in Kamuning. He lined the boxes, which were used to display fresh catch possibly in the 1960s and 1970s, with pages from a book of haikus. He added Japanese paper prints, school rulers with Japanese numbering, and photographs of people with seemingly Japanese features dating from the 1920s to 1960s. For the exhibition, the 10 boxes are stacked into two ziggurats.
The altars allude to Chabet's ziggurats in whimsical drawings and collages in the 1970s and 1980s and his framed juxtapositions of monochrome paintings in 2010. Among those projects is Kong Ziggurats or King Kong Collages (1979-1980). The giant ape wrought havoc on humankind in response to their vanity, greed and overreach.
In Mesopotamia, the ziggurat was an intermediary space between the heavens and earth, a place where priests beseeched the gods for mercy and blessings. This complex of layers is an apt metaphor for our immeasurable time of epic catastrophes and suffering.
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The gallery is open by appointment only until further notice.
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