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Babble, Bauble: Tweaking Femme

May 12 to September 15, 2006

Curated by Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez and Claro Ramirez

Exhibitions provide opportunities to take stock and render an accounting of collections. Babble, Bauble: Tweaking Femme occasioned LMM’s look into its trove of paintings, including those by Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, to find how women represented themselves and were re-presented. These were shown alongside images from ABS-CBN’s film and TV archives. By posing classical images against trenchant virgin-vamp-hag archetypes, Babble, Bauble discovered how alternative readings were negotiated and oppositional images were posed and, ultimately, how these slipped through the clutches of meaning-making gatekeepers operating within the domains of visual and popular art.

Playing on the idea that women continue to be associated with vanity and gab, the Lopez Museum and Libray in collaboration with ABS-CBN Media Asset Management Division opens Babble, Baubble: Tweaking Femme. The exhibit inquirres into how its own collection figures in light of how femals have historically changed the way they look upon themselves and have been looked upon by others.

The gift of one’s body maybe considered the supreme form of sacrifice when answering the revolutionary demands of history– and many women have offered this oblation in the revolutionary struggle — but its importance for nationalist discourse and practice does not negate, and should not downgrade, the importance and full range of concrete forms assumed by the notion of sacrifice, from the difficult, interminable task of educating children to vital aid in the form of material succor– whether food or shelter or information– extended to embattled compatriots. – Hau, Of the Subject of the Nation: Filipino Writings from the Margins 1981-2004, ADMU Press, 2004.

Like other forms of cultural heritage, books such as novenas record cultural change. The exhibition Impress

As women have alternately been portrayed as docile virgin, devoted handmaiden, coy flirt, vampy villainess, busty heroine, bored matron, and wretched hag, Babble, Bauble hopes to invite viewers to find traces of how, over time, females have played up to or resisted being pinned down to types. The exhibition brings together images of women as represented in classical and modern painting, sculpture, photography, graphic art, film, video, television, theatre, dance, church art, pageantry, and daily rituals of work and play.

The situation was different for Filipinas who were doubly dominated: first as non-illustrados, and second as women. Accordingly, the character Maria Clara is ‘readily  subjected to the domestication power of the male discourse,” and has the “capacity to divert men,” from their lawful purposes in life. On the other hand, the character Dona Consolacion typifies the more ‘sinister aspect’ of women in general. She is the ‘unstable element’ in the Noli because she escapes from Rizal’s control and thus becomes a symbol of resistance to masculine hegemony. From the end of the nineteenth century, therefore, illustrado men assigned Filipinas roles in their society similar to those Western patriarchy specified for women. – p.16 Feminine and Philippine in Colonial Discourse, Colonizing Filipinas, Holt

Visitors will find how multidimensional and complex issues of gender can be read and re-read amidst the works of Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Carlos Francisco, Cesar Legaspi, Vicente Manansala, Ang Kuikok, Anita Magsaysay Ho, Bencab, Romeo Tabuena, Juvenal Sanso, Macario Vitalis, Lee Aguinaldo, and Pacita Abad, among others. A simultaneous exhibition drawn from the Lopez Museum and Library’s rich image and publication archive complements the museum’s visual arts collection.

 

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