“El Demonio de las Comparaciones” (the spectre of comparisons) originates from Jose Rizal‘s Noli Me Tangere and acts as framework for the practices of Maestro and Ocampo in this exhibition.
The phrase sums up the experience of Rizal‘s protagonist, Crisostomo Ibarra, when he gazes out at the botanical gardens of Manila and simultaneously sees the gardens of Europe. This point of realization suggests the loss of Ibarra‘s (and Rizal‘s) political innocence, this double-vision of experiencing events up close and from afar: no longer able to see the Philippines without seeing Europe nor gaze at Europe without seeing the Philippines.
With this as spectral pivot, Maestro‘s and Ocampo‘s practices, aesthetically worlds apart from each other and produced through a multiplicity of contexts, are brought together in Venice. Both artists have lived and practiced outside of the Philippines, but have maintained active engagement with the country throughout their careers. Their practice and their subject matters are deeply involved with their experiences as immigrants or citizens of a new diaspora that also reflect the complexity of a contemporary Philippine identity.
- Lani Maestro , No Pain Like This Body, 2010/2017 . Installation with ruby-red neon. Photo: Hua Jin © Lani Maestro. Courtesy of the artist