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July 7, 2011

TOUCH ME: An exhibition of artists' books

Hiraya Gallery 06.28.2011
Ten artists release 10 books for the latest exhibition at Hiraya Gallery which opens on June 29, titled Touch Me. In celebration of Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary, the show is a take on what is arguably the most important contributions made by the national hero to Philippine culture, “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”—works that constitute the fantasy that time and again has been referred to as “the Great Filipino Novel,”... a specter that artists who work in & w/ language have had to face over the decades.

The exhibition’s title is a spin on the title of the hero’s first novel, popularly translated as “Touch me not.” While physical contact between audience & artwork is discouraged—if not forbidden—in most commercial galleries, contact between audience & artwork in this particular show is inevitable; the works invite touch by taking on the form of books whose initial print runs may be limited but nonetheless intended to be reproduced in case, to utilize market-speak, ‘supplies do not last.’

The books to be launched & made available are Buen Calubayan’s “Decision,” Bea Camacho’s “Jose Rizal,” Enzo Camacho’s “Raw and Unbridled,” Lizza May David’s “150 x Rizal,” Dina Gadia’s “Cannibal Girls, Roadkill and Leftovers,” R.A.’s (Retired Artist's) “ako: isang nobelang pambata sa salitang tagalog,” Wawi Navarroza’s “Gracias Por Su Visita,” Mark Salvatus’ “Torong Ginto,” Louie Talents’ “Bible with Cauterized Letters,” and Costantino Zicarelli’s “Beyond Evil” written under the pseudonym Doktor Kostantinov Zikkarelenski.

These works position Hiraya not only as a gallery that provides venues for exhibition but also as a network for publication and distribution, a crucial subject position for such a platform to inhabit in consideration of the inescapable fact of commodification in art production and the viability of the book as a medium that takes advantage of mass production. In the case of most of these books, even gallery director Didi Dee has had to inhabit the difficult role of producer in this vital refunctioning of subject positions. Working with her is poet-critic Angelo V. Suarez who joins in to inhabit the role of curator.

Hiraya Gallery is located at 530 United Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila. For information, call 5233311.

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