The Gathering Season: Exhibit Opening



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The Gathering Season: wherein I explain my first solo exhibit in words and photographs and profusely thank everyone who became a part of this wonderful night :3

 

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The Gathering Season  – preparation for the dead of winter.
As the nights grow longer and the trees start shedding the last of their leaves, animals travel far to gather food into piles, ensuring their survival for the long and lonely months of ice and snow. Nature dictates this to be true. This is how animals were wired. They collect as a means to live through the harshness of winter, only to emerge in the first promise of spring. But humans have their own gathering seasons too. My exhibit attempts to show you why.

 

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Last October 4, The Gathering Season happened – my first ever solo exhibit of mixed media pieces which I held in public. There were actual plans, actual invites, actual promotional materials, and an actual Facebook event page even, which we all know in this day and age makes an event truly real. Preparing for the exhibit was nerve-wracking. A month and a half prior to the event, I already knew what it was going to be about (collecting, hoarding, consumption). I felt strongly about the subject and I knew how I was going to attack. So, I let the days drag on and I took my time binge-watching Game of Thrones (I’m the only loser who’s still on the first season). I only started getting down to the collaging business a month before the exhibit, thinking “12 works in 30 days? Pshh, I got this.”

 

Well.

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From L to R, Top to Bottom:

Love Goes Where My Lavender Grows,  Kit and Caboodle,   As Quick As You Can,  My Backyard is a Jungle,  In Lieu of a Postcard,  This Is No Place For Giants

Protego Maxima,  Time in Capsules,  Man and Machine,  Mischief in Fruit Aisle 42,  A Lesson in Numismatics,  Pocket Weight

(Btw, digital copies of my 12-piece collection is up in my folio site. Scroll down to the end of the entry for the link :D Also, this exhibit will be up at Heima until the end of October!)

 

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The Cabinet of Curiosities

 

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Coded polaroid wall with quotes

 

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I can be quite anal when it comes to my work. I refuse to put out anything that I’m not 100% happy about or at peace with. Night after night after night of coming home from my day job and finishing my gigs and freelance duties, I would sit down and make a collage happen. And I’d make them happen – except that my satisfaction with the work is almost never guaranteed. By my exhibit launch, I was left with about 12 something collage rejects. But I never stopped working until I was sure.

 

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People ask me often why I chose to put up a show about collectors and their collections. I quote myself from an interview that I did for Heima.
My favourite quote of all time comes from John Waters – “Life is nothing if you are not obsessed” – and to me this is totally true. The most interesting people for me are those who are consumed with (and even crippled by) their obsessions. It’s fascinating to me how some people could spend ridiculous amounts of time and money on anything that is beyond our basic human needs

 

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I’m a self-proclaimed hoarder and everything, from my attachment to things & people to me choosing digital collage as a primary medium, can all be attributed to the fact that I find it hard to LET GO. I’m a collector in a very basic sense – which is to say I have amassed a lot of “insignificant things” over the past years of me being alive, basically.
At first, they were envelopes – in which I kept notes passed around in class and letters from my grade school pen pals. And then there were Happy Meals. Then stickers. Notebooks. Old coins. Stamps. Trinkets. Badges. Barbie doll heads. Plastic barrettes. Japanese konbini labels.  Every other excuse of a thing, just so I could collect a collection of things. This is how I started.
Somehow, amassing things gave me a weird sense of comfort. Holding on to things is a way for me to remember. It’s a placeholder for memory.

 

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Segue 1: Thanks to my friends Seed Bunye, Rizza Cabrera, and The Sun Manager + MOONWLK and Zeon Gomez for performing for my event! Thank you for being a part of The Gathering Season, I WUV U LOL.

 

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Segue 2: Such a fan of this pocket-sized girl, April Hernandez of The Sun Manager! Trivia: I made art for her collection of country crest stickers (see In Lieu of a Postcard)

 

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I knew why I collected things, but I was curious to know why other people did, and what specific things have they chosen to keep. I set myself up for a mission to find people whose collections piqued my interest. I did a Twitter survey and asked to meet up with friends and friends of friends. After a flurry of phone calls, tweet exchanges and back and forth emailing, I had my 12 subjects. Two of them from opposite sides of the world (one from Indonesia, one from London).
I personally borrowed most of my subjects’ collections and spent a bit of time understanding what these things meant to them through interviews and conversations. I sat down with some of them over sandwiches and potato crisps, and some I was defying physical limitations with, thanks to the wonders of the Internet. I wanted to get a very condensed version of who the person was behind the objects that they hold dear. With my exhibit, I wanted to paint what little thing I discovered about the collector through a mixed media portrait that showed no face or photo. No outright telltale signs that point to an identifiable source.

 

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Except, I wanted things to be a puzzle. I wanted to leave traces and hints of the collectors’ identities by physical representations of them, separate from the collages I made. I wanted to make a simple catalogue system that mimics the way museums curate their permanent and private collections. So across the wall where I hung my art, there was a thing I called the “Cabinet of Curiosities”.
There are twelve collages, all inspired by items collected by her friends offline and online: plants, Japanese kiddie watches, valve amplifiers, and perhaps most ingeniously, stickers from fruits sold at supermarkets. The collages are on one side; on the other are the items themselves, and in Polaroids, the thoughts of the collectors. The idea is to piece the items together like a jigsaw puzzle: there’s no one right way to look at the pieces. The result, at least to me, is a meaning that factors in both what Reese feels, what the collectors feel, and what you feel about the items. 
The collages themselves are whimsical, surreal without pushing it. A clear influence is printed matter from the early part of the last century: snatches of Bodoni and illustrations off children’s books, of instruction manuals and advertisements from the 1950s. The pieces definitely evoke the past, a time when you do have a lot of printed matter to make collages out of and write on, but the aesthetic is decidedly of the present: minimalist on one side, psychedelic on another.

 

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The polaroids that above was talking about, are the ones pictured right below. As I got ahold of each collector’s prized possessions, I photographed them with expired instant films. I matched the photos with significant quotes I pulled from the respective owners – the quotes I acquired from my personal interviews.

 

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On top of each photo was a collector’s code – a string of (non-random, predetermined) numbers and letters that I assigned to each of my subjects. The codes have also been assigned to the objects displayed in the cabinet of curiosities (e.g. RML-CGR54 for valve amplifiers, JRE-SCT26 for the pitcher plant specimen), as well as the collage work that the items have given birth to.

 

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The collector’s code is a tool to make sense of the art installation as a whole. It is a way to conceal the identity of the collector to the casual viewer, but also a way to decode the actual person by matching it with a legend that lists the real names of my subjects.

The code is the only key that opens the clear connection of the main collage work (via the coded artworks) to the actual objects that they owned (via the cabinet), as well as the words and stories they’ve shared (via the quotes on the polaroid wall). So even though a casual viewer can appreciate the works as separate pieces or installations, a careful examination of the whole exhibit untangles the complicated web I’ve weaved across the two wide walls.

 

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Segue 3: Here I am, performing my original songs on my own exhibit! What a surreal moment getting to present my art and music to the same audience in one night!

 

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Segue 4: The wildly popular pastel alcoholic mixed drink, Milky Wasted!

 

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This review that John Ilagan wrote of my exhibit particularly captured the essence and intent of my art perfectly. I couldn’t have put the words together better myself, so allow me to quote from his very well-written piece:

The usage of collage as a medium is a near perfect match for the subject of collecting, adding further depth to the statement of a greater purpose in a whole. The artist pieces together images related only by thematic or aesthetic elements, creating a composition that transcends the sum of its parts. Very much like the collections they portray.

The collections ran a rather eclectic range, varying from ‘things stolen from restaurants’ to ‘carnivorous and hanging plants’, showcasing the boundlessness of subjects that people could attach their passions to. But perhaps the best part of a collection comes in the sharing of experiences; the ability to give people a glimpse into your own little world and frame your own individuality.

Curiously, I thought almost that this assemblage of people attending the exhibit could be a collection of Reese’s. Comprised of family, friends, friends of friends, and perhaps the odd stranger or two like myself, this group came together on this night to take part in a showcase that was uniquely Reese Lansangan

 

Also, please check out this wonderful poem he wrote, inspired by The Gathering Season’s subject of collecting. It’s rare of me to find poetry that I really like, and this I really do like. The imagery is crisp and clear as day.

 

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One of the few, clear shots of my framed work! Can you match the collection with the art? The two collages below seem pretty obvious!

 

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This Is No Place For Giants (from the collection of JKB-MIN10):  this was the favorite of most of my friends (or so they said haha!). It was inspired by my friend’s collection of miniature things. Her Cabinet of Curiosities item is the mini dictionary at the topmost right of the cabinet. Scroll up so you can see!

 

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My sister Denice, caught by my friend Karen, eating a chicken lollipop.

 

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This is my only good photo with my works!!! Thank you so much PCheng Photography for coming! They wrote a great review of the event over at their blog as well, so check it out!

 

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I guess the point of this lengthy post is just to say a massive THANK YOU.

Thank you to EVERYONE who came out to support The Gathering Season!!!! The attendance was CRAZY and went beyond my expectations! I’ve been such a bad online person lately, resorting to Instagram and Twitter for a quick primer of what I’ve been recently up to, so I was absolutely surprised and delighted with the turn-out of my exhibit! Young readers came (ever so promptly, too!) to check the works out with their parents. Some even stayed up until 11:30 to watch me perform. Some were close friends, some were old friends from old schools, some were strangers who were dragged by other common friends, some were fans of Heima who happened to be curious, and some just found themselves there at that night. Whoever you are and however way you wound up at The Gathering Season, my heartfelt thank you for being there <3

I also would like to thank Heima for trusting me enough to hold my very first exhibit in the confines of their lovely store. I’ve been a fan ever since the brand’s conception and I’m so overwhelmed by the trust and confidence that they placed upon me. October 4 was just truly a great moment! I’m still giddy!

Some important things before I close this entry:

1) My exhibit will run the whole month of October, so you can drop by Heima Brixton at Kapitolyo during store hours to check the works out for yourself!

2) My collages are for sale, just drop by Heima and ask around if you’re curious! Or email me for an online catalogue :)

3) My 12-piece collection from The Gathering Season is up at my portfolio site! Check it awt.

4) Thank you to my friends for the photographs. The pretty ones have been taken by Karen Dela Fuente of Shutterpanda Photography. The professional singular photo of me with my works is by PCheng Photography, and the rest is by my sister.

5) Check out #thegatheringseason hashtag both on Instagram and Twitter for more photos!!!

6) Here are some articles and insightful write-ups you can read re: The Gathering Season!

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Thank you thank you thank you and I love you all <3


Leave a Comment

5 comments
  1. I really love your prologue– the one about how animals and humans alike have this natural instinct for gathering as a means for survival. I may have not gone to your exhibit but this blog proves that things went great on that day. Congratulations! May you survive and flourish after your gathering season. Stay gold, Reese!

    1. Monica: This comment is so sweet! If you happen to live in Manila, you can still check the exhibit out, it will be up until around mid November! Thank you so much for appreciating the art! I’m glad I can still share this event with people online.

  2. Your exhibit is magnificent, Reese…sorry I wasn’t able to make it, something came up but I do hope you have more in the future & I will certainly look forward to it. The world needs your genuis