We Are Not Aimless and “This Often Misunderstood Art Form”
“Eto. Tae siya,” was the sparse and laconic explanation given by Apol Sta. Maria when asked to describe his contribution to We Are Not Aimless, an exhibit launched at Manila Contemporary on the 22nd of January. Curated by Zeus Bascon, We Are Not Aimless gathered 27 names that were already established in the creative industries, a crew composed of graphic designers, art directors, comic book artists, and children’s book illustrators to contribute visual distillations of their ideas on illustration as artistic practice.
“One of the biggest challenges I faced as a curator was defending the need for this type of show,” says Bascon, a board member of Ilustrador ng Kabataan who ventured into soft sculpture for this exhibition, “but I couldn’t even come up with a concrete definition of illustration”. Pieces such as Mica Cabildo’s crocheted works, and toys by Isabel Roxas and Abi Goy, only add to the ambiguity of defining both the products and practice of illustration. By presenting a collection that was about as organized a Surrealist parlor game, Bascon and co. made it difficult for the exhibition to guide the viewer towards a singular narrative that would redefine illustration, which was already described in the notes as an “often misunderstood art form”, and assert its place in the canon of Contemporary Art. In this chaos, one is more likely to find a defense of aimlessness, rather than a contradiction to it.