“Pananampalataya at Sining” (Faith and Art): The Filipino Visita Iglesia

The Visita Iglesia: The Practice

In the country where the dominant religion is Roman Catholicism, the Season of Lent and the Holy Week are marked by colorful liturgical celebrations and popular Filipino devotions. For Filipino Catholics, the Lenten Season starts on Ash Wednesday, while the Holy Week starts at Palm Sunday and ends at Easter Sunday, a slight deviation from the liturgical canon (The Holy week should start from the evening of Saturday before Palm Sunday until Holy Thursday before sunset). Among many popular Filipino Holy Week devotions are the usage of blessed Palm Fronds at Palm Sunday to seemingly send off bad luck and evil spirits, the Pabasa or reading of the Passion of Christ (a 200-paged book containing lyrics narrating the whole salvation history), the Visita Iglesia or church-to-church trip to pray the Way of the Cross, the Senakulo or theatrical play of the salvation history,  the Last Supper Mass at Maundy Thursday, the Veneration of the Cross at Good Friday, the long procession for the interred Christ, the Easter Vigil Mass (Saturday night), and the Salubong or meet-up of two images (Christ and Mary) at the dawn of Easter Sunday. All of these, plus few other activities depending on the local community, make up the liturgical life of Filipinos during the Holy Week, where penance and reconciliation with the Lord are deemed necessary.

Initially, Visita Iglesia is the practice of visiting at least seven (7) churches on Maundy Thursday to honor the Blessed Sacrament, which Jesus Christ has instituted (Sacrament of Eucharist). But the practice evolved through time. The day of the visit is no longer limited to Maundy Thursday alone, but to anytime during the lenten season until black Saturday. The visits have become more than an spiritual endeavor (of meditation and pilgrimage). It has become a touristic activity, promoting the old churches in the country.

Spiritual and Museum Experience of the Visita Iglesia

The Visita Iglesia, with its contemplative nature, is similar to a museum exhibition. There are objects (churches) in display and ready for the viewers to be experienced aesthetically or spiritually. Each of these object-churches narrates the (his)stories of their communities and of their people. These his-stories can then be read by the viewers-pilgrims in many forms (i.e. didactics, oral, written). The viewers-pilgrims can weave their own grand narrative of stories through self-guidance and DIY itineraries. The itineraries, or order of the visits, provide for the self-directed aesthetic experience preceding the deeper spiritual journey. Some artistic exhibitions work similarly: self-directed, contemplative, and “pilgrimage”-like.

The Itinerary

For the first time, I did my own walking Visita Iglesia within the central district of Manila, the beacon of the Catholicism in the Spanish colonial period. As being a devout Catholic and with my personal interest in Church art, I took the visita iglesia as both a pilgrimage and curatorial (museum-like) experience.

The Visita started at the (1) Sto. Domingo Church (National Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila) along Quezon Avenue. This ecclesiastical complex is established by the Dominicans in the early 1500’s. This church is a treasure-vault on its own. It has murals made by National Artists Botong Francisco and stain-glass windows made by Modernist Galo Ocampo.

Sto. Domingo Church (Our Lady of Most Holy Rosary - La Naval de Manila), Quezon City
Sto. Domingo Church (Our Lady of Most Holy Rosary – La Naval de Manila), Quezon City

I hailed a jeepney and went westward to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) where another parish dedicated to the Our Lady of Most Holy Rosary is located. Inside UST, one can find the (2) Santissimo Rosario Parish. Across the main gate of UST, one can find an alley towards Loyola Street. Along Loyola, there is a small alley which leads towards the Sampaloc Public Market, where the twin Churches of Sampaloc, the (3) Our Lady of Loreto Parish, and the (4) Saint Anthony Shrine are located.

I walked few meters towards Legarda and find the (5) San Sebastian Church (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel).

San Sebastian Church (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel), Quiapo, Manila
San Sebastian Church (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel), Quiapo, Manila

I came back to Mendiola and walked to the (6) National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus.

Altar of National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, San Miguel, Manila
Altar of National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, San Miguel, Manila

I rode a jeepney towards SM Manila, and waited for bus that goes to Pandacan. I dropped by the (7) Santo Nino Church.

Facade of Santo Nino de Pandacan Church, Pandacan, Manila
Facade of Santo Nino de Pandacan Church, Pandacan, Manila

I rode a tricycle to Pedro Gil street and had transferred to another jeepney going to Sta. Ana to find the (8) Sta. Ana Church (Our Lady of the Abandoned).

Facade of the Our Lady of the Abandoned, Sta. Ana, Manila
Facade of the Our Lady of the Abandoned, Sta. Ana, Manila

Then, a jeepney-ride back can bring one to the (9) Ermita Church (Nuestra Seniora de Guia), Another jeepney ride, southbound, to my final church, which is the (10) Malate Church (Our Lady of Remedies).

Facade of the Our Lady of Remedies Church, Malate, Manila
Facade of the Our Lady of Remedies Church, Malate, Manila

The Visita Iglesia is more than a “field trip” for the believers. The aesthetic appreciation of the church facade, interiors, retablos and treasures should aid the devotees to a deeper relationship with the Lord. The liturgical arts and space are there to facilitate prayer and devotion. The focus must not be on the destination but on how does the journey transform devotees to a better Christian person.

From Korea to the World: A reflection on Chunhyang (2000 film by Im Kwon-Taek)

“The wild geese desire the sea, the crabs desire their holes, and a butterfly desires a flower.”

It was, perhaps, a desire to showcase Korean culture to the world that drove celebrated Korean director, Im Kwon-Taek, to give the world a glimpse of ancient Korean society through p’ansori, a unique method of storytelling that is traditionally performed live and on stage. In retelling the legend of Chunhyang to a global audience, Mr. Im not only reinvented the narrative experience of a known epic to his local audience but also presented his international viewers a colorful representation of medieval Korean society and its culture. This attempt was succesful as the 2000 film “Chunhyang” received numerous accolades worldwide such as a nomination in the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

"Chunghyandyun" (original title) Director: Im Kwon-Taek
“Chunghyandyun” (original title)
Director: Im Kwon-Taek

The film begins with a scene set in modern-day South Korea featuring a p’ansori´ singer, kwangdae, who performs the Chunghyungga (the story of Chunhyang) in front of an audience with a varied demographic. The kwangdae then tells the main narrative of the film: a Romeo-and-Juliet romance set in 18th century Korea, but with a happy ending. A romance story which has perhaps inspired the blooming of local romantic films and TV dramas which have recurrent themes of love between classes. Chunghyungga, the story being told in Chunhyang (2000), is wrapped with the themes of 1) young and careless romance that has matured into the virtues of sacrifice and perseverance, 2) system of hierarchy in politics and domestic affairs, and 3) display of ancient Korean culture. These themes built up an appealing plot that became a surving oral traditional art which made its way into the modern cinema.

The film work is basically a retelling of Chunghyungga as being perfomed through p’ansori, but with dramatized sequences. The film switches back and forth with the p’ansori singer and the telenovela-esque scenes. It is vital to note that the dramatic scenes were synchronized with the kwangdae’s story, which is either sung or spoken. The pace and mood of the drama depended largely on the singer’s tempo and melody. For example, there is a scene where the servant, Pangja, is tasked to look for Chunhyang. As Pangja frolicked his way into the woods, the kwangdae performed the narration in a similar ecstatic and delightful manner. The viewers are confronted with a narrator who knows how to influence emotions as they experience the film. Also, there are times when the singer takes over the voice of the actors in the drama, as to emphasize a significant dialogue. The typical Chunghyungga performance takes more than five hours, but the film sliced it down to around two hours, maintaining the essential story plot and significant narrative lines for imagery and emotional appeal. Without the p’ansori narration, the main romance story would perhaps come out as a typical modern period drama with the same overused plot.

In addition, the production and its design are not to be ignored. Creating a period drama is a costly undertaking. Costumes, set design, location, set pieces and other cultural motifs have to be meticulously prepared. The film Chunghyang features beautiful landscapes, sufficient village structures, wardrobe, and numerous supplementary actors; determinants of a highly–budgeted film.

Furthermore, Chunghyungga is famous among the local audience and has been made into film numerous times and retold through various art forms. Koreans are familiar with the story, as well as the p’ansori performance. Thus, a film about a p’ansori performance of Chunghyungga that is targeted to the local audience would be would not be appealing. Im Kwon-Taek, perhaps, aimed at showcasing the beauty of Korean culture to the world by re-presenting the art of p’ansori and re-packaging the story of Chunghyang. With the production and the performance as a feast to the senses and emotion, the film is made to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the Korean culture to the rest of the world.

Celebrated Korean director, Im Kwon-Taek.
photo from: http://www.biff.kr

In other words, Chunhyang (2000) is made to be appreciated and experienced by non-Korean film viewers. The p’ansori performance, the impressive production, the heroic and persevering love, and the nostalgia for ancient culture, all of these work to depict the “Korean-ness” (Lee 2005) of its thriving nation, as seen in the preservation of its culture and in its embrace of modernity and progress.

Chunhyang (2000) IMDB

References:

Clark, Donald T. Culture and Customs of Korea. Greenwood Press: London, 2000. Pp72-73.

National Academy of Korean Language. An Influential Guide to Korean Culture.

Karten, Harvey. “Chunhyangdyun”. Harvey Karten. Retrieved 12 November 2013.

“Pansori”. Wikipedia. Retrieved 10 November 2013.

“Chunghyang (2000 film)”. Wikipedia. Retrieved 10 November 2013.

“Chunghyungga”. Wikipedia. Retrieved 10 November 2013.

Lee, Hyangjin (September 1, 2005). CHUNHYANG: Marketing an Old Korean Tradition in New Korean Cinema. NYU Press. Retrieved from http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=s4oA19by0uYC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false; 10 November 2013.

People I Want to Meet: Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist
Hans Ulrich Obrist

Dubbed as the world’s greatest curator and one of art world’s most powerful individuals, Hans Ulrich Obrist (HUO) has a child’s energy in a middle-aged man’s body with a 90-year old’s wisdom and intellect. He can speak as fast as he can think. His knowledge in art history, the art world and curation, social science, literature, is as vast as his horizon, which is significantly, global. For his peers, he is a “celebrity curator”, a global loved-by-the-media everything-goes curator,  much to the ire of the traditionalist curators. He has his own Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Instagram photo album and a Tumblr blog dedicated for him.

Born in Zurich, Swizterland in 1968, HUO started his fascination with art when he was young. At the age of 17, he visited Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weis who then collaborated on a project named “The Way Things Go” – a series of objects with chain reactions. This had, perhaps, started a “chain reaction” in HUO (Michael H. Miller, http://www.galleristny.com), where he began to build his career as a curator.

“As a child in Switzerland I was obsessed by art. I always went to museums, then when I was 16 or 17 I met for the first time, artists. The first artists I met were Peter Fischli and David Weiss, they did amazing work around chain reactions and worked with these equilibriums in ‘The Way Things Go’, and I visited them very often in the following years. That somehow made me think that I wanted to work with artists and find a way to do so.” (i-Curate: Hans Ulrich Obrist, www.i-donline.com, April 2013)

His career kickstarted at the age of 23, when he curated his first show at his very own kitchen in St. Gallen, in 1991 – hence, the name “The Kitchen Show”. Now, he is the current Co-Director for Exhibitions and Programmes and Director for International Projects of the Serpentine Gallery in London, U.K. He has done around 200 exhibitions across the globe, published a number of books i.e. A Brief History of Curating, founded the Brutally Early Club – a discussion group involving artists, filmakers, writers, philosphers, scientists, usually venued at Starbucks, who meets at 6:30 in the morning – and is a contributing editor to various publications i.e. Telegraph UK, The Sunday Times, and mostly in art and culture magazines.

Some of his shows included Michael Angelo Pistollet: The Mirror of Judgment (2011), China Power Station (2010), The Now Interviews (Venice Architectural Biennale) (2010), Il Tempo Del Postino (2009), Marathon Series (2006 – 2009), Yoko Ono Horizontal Memories (2005), Second Guangzho Triennial (2004), Do It (1997), and Manifesta 1 (1996), among a list of shows in neatly tucked in his resume.

However, HUO never thought of being an artist. He loved working with art and artists. But he never considered making art.

“I always thought I wanted to facilitate, produce these bridges, maybe junctions and expand the notion of curating. It was always the idea of working with artists. I’ve never had an art practice. My practice is to curate, to write books and my interview project. It is an activity that is about art, working with art, but it’s not making art. It’s like Gilbert and George once said, the famous sentence, ‘to be with art is all we ask.’” (i-Curate: Hans Ulrich Obrist, www.i-donline.com, April 2013)

Aside from being a curating luminary, he is also known as an interviewer. Part of HUO’s career is to have a conversation with artists, filmakers, writers, scientists and likeminded people, and publish them as the Interview Project. This interest in long conversations was triggered by similar form of interview done by David Sylvester to Francis Bacon. Since then, it became his model doing interviews.

However, according to him, in an interview published in a blog (www.frieze.com),

“I have always done this as a curator; I talk to artists. Little by little the interviews were published and now there are artists holding seminars about The Interview Project. It was not premeditated, there was never a strategy behind it at all, it was never a conscious idea of ‘now I want to write the history of my time!’ That sort of grand gesture was not there. For me, it was to be in the middle of things and in the centre of nothing. There was no master plan and still there is not. It is more that, all of a sudden, there is an occasion or a desire to interview someone; little by little there a system develops. But the system comes a posteriori, not a priori.” (published by Clo’e Floirat, blog.frieze.com, December 2011)

HUO thinks of his curatorial career as a bridge builder, between the public and the art world, most importantly a bridge to the artists. For him, art must be taken beyond the confines of the white walls of the gallery. He has curated shows in nearly every possible venues; in his kitchen, in an aeroplane, in a power station, in a garden, in a monastery (www.telegraph.co.uk). HUO believes in constantly making art fresh and enjoyable to the public, to give it an unexpected context, because, for him, a normal museum-going experience is “too linear, too homogenous”. He is also a firm believer that art is “for all”.

HUO is a ‘roadrunner’. Aside from his regular work at Serpentine Gallery, he is being commissioned left and right, being invited to seminars and symphosia, while busy doing his interviews on the side. He is basically on-the-go. Alastair Smart of The Telegraph UK describes him as “The antithesis of your stereotypical, dusty-old-relic curator who never leaves his museum, Obrist is of a new, go-getting breed of über-curator” (2010). HUO is “omnipotent in the art world” (yayayagetarty.blogspot.com, February 2011) as one blogger would say.

HUO takes his principle in curation and exhibition from two people: Martinican writer Edouard Glissant and Russian art critic and impressario Serge Diaghilev.

In an interview with Whitereview.org, HUO reminisces:

“Edouard Glissant gives me courage that one can actually enter into a global dialogue without erasing difference. The forces of globalisation are very much in effect in the world of exhibitions. The way that shows tour is evidence of that – our Serpentine exhibition, Indian Highway, has now been through six cities and is on its way to its seventh, in China. The important thing is that the show is defined not as a created, boxed exhibition which goes from A to B to C to D without changing, which would be an expression of that homogenising globalisation, but instead that wherever it goes it enters into a dialogue with the local community. In each case the show changes: there is each time a new artist who organises another artist-run exhibition. We’ve defined the rules of the game, but not the outcome.” (www.whitereview.org)

He believed that we – or anything – are an archipelago and that there is no center. Neither individual parts or the collective whole are constant once and for all. Any change in the component parts will not erase the whole’s sense of self.  Thus, he is working on an open-ended model of curation. He best avoids shows that displays a curatorial concept. His exhibitions will try to produce knowledge that can be used elsewhere.

Diaghilev’s influence on HUO can be found on the latter’s openness to include and engage disciplines other than art. In his long-running Marathons, HUO invites people to engage in a conversation related to the pre-determined theme. For example, in his Experiment Marathon (2007) he invited not only artists but also scientists for over 24 hours of non-stop conference, to show and engage themselves in experiments.

HUO believed exhibitions is like a toolbox – everyone can use it in their own desire. He loves the idea of exhibitions as a knowledge production education program, where future artists will see how influential or discursive their predecessors are. He is known to research and document famous artists and even emerging ones. In his own terms, this activity is “a protest against forgetting things.” And for him, artists are the most significant component of the exhibition. Without artists, there is no art world.

Today’s curatorial practice in the Philippines can learn much from HUO’s conduct, such as the idea of an open-ended and all engaging exhibition where other discipline can be in tandem with art practice. The public usually goes to a museum or gallery to view art, but HUO’s notion of “unexpected context” can be practiced wherein the institutions can bring art and the messages of art outside the gallery walls and into the public sphere.

–XX–

Sources:

i-Curate: Hans Ulrich Obrist. 9 April 2013. www.i-donline.com

The Q & A: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Curator. www.moreintelligentlife.com

Smart, Alastair. October 2010. Hans Ulrich Obrist interview for Serpentine Gallery’s Map Marathon. www.telegraph.co.uk

Miller, Michael. 21 May 2013. Marathon ManL On the Run with Hans Ulrich Obrist, the World’s Greatest Curator. www.galleristny.com

Eastham, Benjamin. (no date). Interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist. www.thewhitereview.org

O’Neill, Paul. (no date). Hans Ulrich Obrist. www.contemporary-magazines.com

Floirat, Clo’e. (December 2011). Interviewing the Interviewer: A Conversation with hans Ulrich Obrist. blog.frieze.com

Hans Ulrich Obrist. http://www.wikipedia.com

TedxMakarresh: Hans Ulrich Obrist – Art of Curation. http://www.youtube.com

Art for Social Change

I was a student and a practitioner of Development Communication (DevCom), a science-oriented field of communication which deals with solving development problems using varied communication activities and tools, which includes community participation, research and Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) initiatives. From the viewpoint of DevCom, Art (i.e. painting, sculpture, etc) is not an immediate concern (poverty is), and not the most preferred tool to facilitate development (print, broadcast, community dialogue are).

I grew up believing that Art belongs to a separate plane than Development. That art cannot be used to connect people together for the ultimate purpose of alleviating social and development problems such as inequality, poverty, health issues, and environmental concerns. That development (communication) work deals only with the lower tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and that art belongs to the topmost tier, hence the least of everyone’s concern. And that art belongs to the finer cultured fellows that snob at the face of dilapidated school classrooms, malnourished children, victims of abuse, and sick citizens. And that art belongs only to the museums and galleries and cannot influence the general public opinion and their desire for change.

I went over to art studies with that belief. I have accepted the fact that art and development do not merge in a Venn diagram. That I can become either a pure development communication practitioner or an art scholar. No hybrids. No in-betweens.

I used to have that belief, until one day, at the Lopez Museum and Library (Manila), I heard Ms Alma Quinto‘s talk, entitled FROM WOUND TO WOMB: ART FOR CHANGE.

USING ART AS A TRANSFORMATIVE TOOL

Ms. Alma Quinto is a visual artist with a purpose. That  purpose is to alleviate the pains of the afflicted. She uses art as a tool to help physically and emotionally wounded individuals and communities recover from their sufferings and traumas. By engaging her participants in various art-making workshops, she lets them express their suppressed thoughts and feelings through creative outlets, such as dance, storytelling, illustration and collages.

Alma was a social worker first before an artist. She already has the heart for social work when she was young – volunteering in various non-profit organizations and church ministries. Perhaps this heart for service was her fuel when she took on the brush and clay.

“JUTAY” | GROUNDED EXHIBIT

“Grounded [exhibit] is a literal and metaphorical take on notions of rootedness, engagement, and mobility in scapes and interventions within and without these referenced sites.” (Lopez Museum & Library Exhibit Guide)

Alma Quinto’s piece on the said exhibit is entitled “Jutay”, a Visayan term for “small”. Upon entering the museum, Gallery 1 holds the Jutay piece. The upper half of the walls are painted green, resembling a classroom chalkboard. Jutay is an interactive work; it provides raw materials (i.e. dried leaves, paper CD cases) by which a viewer can participate and engage themselves with the work. Some of the art products in the work were produced by Ms Alma’s workshop participants, such as River Warriors Volunteers, public school teachers, development workers, and students.

Jutay (1) Jutay (2)

Courtesy of Lopez Museum channel from Youtube.com

OTHER PIECES IN THE GROUNDED EXHIBIT

Grounded still runs at the Lopez Museum & Library until August, 2013. The museum is located at Benpress Building, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Metro Manila.

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I have not had the chance to talk with Ms Alma Quinto after her talk later that day. But I believe, soon, our paths will cross again. I think she is a very rare kind of artist. She personifies what I have always wanted to do – an artist and, at the same time, a development worker.

Related Articles on the Web:

Alma Quinto: Artist as Cultural Healer (www.rappler.com)

Homage to the Heaven-sent Genius: Da Vinci (part 1)

“Heaven sometimes sends us beings who represent not humanity alone but divinity itself, so that taking them as our models and imitating them our minds and the best of our intelligence may approach the highest celestial spheres. Experience shows that those who are led to study and follow the traces of these marvelous geniuses, even if nature gives them little or no help, may at least approach the supernatural works that participate in his divinity.” Giorgo Vasari, The Lives of the Artists

Italy had Leonardo Da Vinci (15th Century), and we had Dr. Jose P. Rizal (19th C). These men shook the foundations of their countries with nothing but pencil (or quill) and paper (moleskine was not yet invented back then). Both are polymaths; they specialized in many things. LDR in Engineering, Painting, Sculpture, Mathematics, Music, Anatomy, Cartography, Botany, etc, while JR in Medicine, Literature, Painting, Sculpture, Agriculture, Taxonomy, etc.  Both are celebrated in as a rare occurrence and gift-to-mankind, by the same people who condemned them (before) by being such rarity.

I would want to discuss about these gentlemen and their contributions to the modern world as much as I can in a single post, but that entails me writing a term paper fit for one of my classes, plus I do not want to intimidate the readers with thousand paragraphs. Thus, this premiere Docent sans Walls post will pay homage to the one who was born first: Da Vinci.

No, I will not write a biography, nor re-post his resume. I do not have any intention of doing so. I will just share few experiences or thoughts I have that are all connected to him.

The Mona Lisa Project on Manila

Mona Lisa is everywhere, and everyone knows her. I have not yet personally seen the famous portrait, though. And I doubt most of us do. For now, I settled with versions of her produced by contemporary artists in a show last June 15 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Manila. Entitled “The Mona Lisa Project”, this exhibit showcased a personal collection of artist Soler Santos, happens to be a gift to his wife Mona (CCP Press Release). The show had around 50 plus art pieces, most of those were paintings but some were three-dimensional pieces, each is inspired by or appropriated from Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

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Mona Lisa has been remade countless times. In fine art, it started from Coquelin Cadet in 1887, which he drew a pipe with smokes coming out of it. The most famous is Marcel Douchamp’s “L.H.O.O.Q”: a mustache and a goatee on a Mona Lisa postcard. And soon, everyone else felt the urge to just have their own version of her.

Is recreating masterpieces allowed? Apparently, yes. In the fine art world, they have the term for it – Appropriations. It is the act of borrowing or copying an artwork or a part of it and present it as one’s own. Is it art? It depends. Usually, it is the gatekeepers (art institutions, museums, galleries, art scholars, etc) who determine whether an appropriated art can be considered as art or not. If they put it on show, it must be art, well, according to their standards. Further, there is a long history of appropriation arts in the West, and you cannot find an artist who do not freely admit that they have ‘appropriated’ a work. Look for Sherri Levine and read about her photographs, for starters.

Art scholars have a theory for Appropriations. For them, it is a Postmodernist critique to originality and authenticity. Discussions on this started when Roland Barthes published “Death of an Author” in 1968, where he disregarded the role of an author in the creation of a Text. In short, there is no such thing as an original idea. An idea sprang out from a preceding inspiration or “eureka moment”.

Going back to the CCP Exhibit, the curated show intended to express various interpretations of the famous sitter. Resulting works varied from apocalyptic renditions, to fattened and ugli-fied Monas, to the disappeared and erased, and to objects that do not represent her at first glance.

“For some, the project started as an attempt to “copy” but eventually disputing that same act. For others, the aesthetic philosophy inherent to the Mona Lisa provided various avenues to explore and assess. While other artists took the Mona Lisa simply as a preset format or a template to engage with using their own conceptual approach and distinct styles. Some artists opt to interpret the subject within present day conditions and concerns, either in an apocalyptic tone or in a pop and playful mood. The resulting collection is varied in style and provides a sampling of works by some of the most dynamic artists in the Manila art scene today.”  CCP (2013)

In the popular culture, there are hilarious remakes, such as Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean version, Anthony Hopkins the Shining, Voldemort, and many more. These surely made us chuckle a bit.

photo (6) photo (7) photo (8) photo (9)

Whether to make fun of her or not, this kind of satire will not affect her market value as a painting and her reputation as a humble smiling face. Da Vinci, for sure, will not take this as an insult to his artistry, for he is beyond insult. If he is alive today, he’d rather take it as a compliment,tweet about it, and continue working on his next big project (perhaps, even hired by Apple Inc.)

Lucky we are that we still have the opportunity to see Mona Lisa, whether the original at Louvre or memes at 9gag. This goes to show how the genius of the Renaissance man from Italy resonates until today, in the age of Facebook, Adobe Photoshop, and smart phones. His painting inspired many others, his inventions became the blueprint of the technology we enjoy today, his studies on anatomy and celestial are the foundations of various schools of thought.

Many books were written about him. He was featured in various historical documentaries and fictions, even a T.V. Series (part 2 of this post). He even inspired a novelist to publish a controversy, much to the ire of Christians.

Amid all the appropriations and memes, Mona Lisa will just smile at you, and LDV will just laugh from the heavens.