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November 12, 2010 / blissmarket

Uncovering the sheets

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Uncovering the Sheets

By J. Pacena II

It was the daily routine that I missed most, since I moved in a new home in Caloocan. That commute from the Taft MRT Station, I will then go down at Cubao Farmers Plaza, walk towards Aurora Blvd., passing by Araneta Coliseum and Gateway Mall leading to my previous apartment in Ermin Garcia, Cubao. I usually went home around 9 PM, when the store keepers are already preparing the daily sales inventory, closing down their shops and setting up the sheet that covers their mannequins’ heads, for whatever purpose they did this I wasn’t sure. During this time, buyers usually go for last minute purchases, some couples, group of friends head towards the cinema to watch the last full show. It was that exact image of the covered statues that initiated this whole concept, in that moment of observing the movements and stillness of the environment in preparation for the after mall hours that inspired this exhibition.

The mannequins covered in sheets reminded me of early experience as a little boy, I used to hide underneath the bed covers to play, imagining as if I am on a ship as a fisherman or inside a house where I am a giant playing with my toys. I used to build my own sanctuary made out of bed sheets, towels and pillows. I often times played alone but on rare occasions I played with my cousin Herbert and my friend Tan-Tan. My sisters were there as well, I would get frustrated because they would force me to sleep during the afternoons. But this image of a mannequin underneath the sheets, mainly reminded me of those times I needed to stay still, to hide, feeling safe from the darkness while the night lingers, while everyone was already asleep. My father taught me how to sleep alone, with the lights off, the sofa serves as my first dream vehicle. It was during those times that I believed I made clear to myself what comfort meant. It was the space underneath the sheets.

In this exhibition, that idea of the transitional stage from day to night, lightness to dark, from awaked consciousness to the awaken subconscious is rediscovered. It is about uncovering the layers of one’s sense of calm that was developed in time.


“Do you really want to jump? He asked… “Do you want to?” She answered.

1:12 AM / The Fragile State of Holding Hands suggests the conflict of emotions and the struggles in decision making between two persons or two different ideas that are connected as one. It is during those times that we can really change everything in one’s life in a single leap of faith. Connected to this idea is the work 2:14 AM / Migraine, which presents a simple maze-like structure that evokes the feeling of being lost, either in one’s consciousness or in that single moment in time.

“I walked for hours not knowing where I will end up… Holding a map I barely understand, changing directions that I am not sure of. But in the end I believed that the path I took lead me to you… also dazed and confused, naked…wanting to be touched.”

“I hoped we got lost together, so it won’t be lonely as it was.”

“Maybe it won’t.”

12:30 AM / Stagnant 01 and 02 is the meeting of two souls, both lost in their chosen path and lost with their own conflicts in life. In this work the glass doors of the gallery separate them from each other, still unsure of whether to finally decide to meet in between. Still motionless, mind cluttered, unable to move, still wondering whether to go out and enter the next phase in life or just stay inside where everything seems to be familiar.

“I cannot understand a word you are saying” He asked

“Maybe you are just tired…” she answered

“I cannot understand a word you are saying.” He replied

7:16 AM / The Last Call, the idea of miscommunication of emotions represented by a dialogue between two individuals, who are lost in the true essence of a conversation. It represents the idea of those moments where one was answered by another form of a question, leading to a much more complicated exchange of understanding. For example… when someone asks you “How was your day?” and it was answered with “How was yours?” leaves a certain void, a broken dialogue.  This work suggests that void, that certain space between two individuals trying to meet in between a conversation.

3:01 AM to 3:30 AM / Silhouettes, Voices and Familiar Phrases is a series of recollections that was initiated during my 3-month curator-in-residence experience in Japan. This series was further developed when I was lost in time at the Setouchi International Art Festival in Japan, in order to see the different art projects, I walked 600 meters and even travelled several kilometres by land and by boat just to view all the artworks scattered along the islands of the Setouchi Sea. I passed by trees, abandoned houses, abandoned schools and spaces, sea shores, roads and even mountains. I crossed the sea from one island to another in order for me to fully experience and understand the full concept of the festival. This particular experience during my residency in Japan made me reflect about a lot of things in my life and made me appreciate the people I have encountered, lived with, and grew up with in my 30 years of existence. This series of works embodies my personal sentiments on the people that made me who I am today. The works are a mixture of digital cut outs of my memories from my Setouchi International Art Festival trip, showing parts of the photographs I captured in 3 separate days in five different islands, particularly Naoshima, Megijima, Ogijima, Teshima and Takamatsu. This was collaged with spontaneous thoughts written in words representing a person or a group of individuals that made a difference in my existence. These artworks have irregular shapes that can be seen on all of the works in this exhibition, representing the irregularities in life.  This is also partnered subtly with the chosen music playing as a soundtrack, an ambient sound for this exhibition ranging from the 90’s music till now.

Other works such as 4:01 AM / Window Watchers, 5:00 AM / Nausea and 6:00 AM / Clouded are floating ideas taken from observation and being uncomfortable. These works are spontaneous reactions from the previous discussed works.  Each title was presented in two different ideas, suggesting two separate titles for each work. One is the time, representing a certain moment that may also represent significant numbers. And one title signifies the narrative content of the work.

After Mall Hours is about transitions, realizations and choosing directions. These themes are translated using a mixture of materials ranging from digital to a more tangible and spontaneous art making experience. This is an interpretation of my pause towards activity, a reflection of a period in one’s life.


Born on July 16, 1980 in Quezon City,  J. Pacena II  finished his Elementary in 1993 at Kamuning Elementary School and his High School  in 1997 at the University of Santo Tomas Pay High School. He graduated in 2001 at the University of Santo Tomas College of Fine Arts and Design with a major in Advertising Arts.   In 2003, he became an instructor for College of Fine Arts and Design in the same University and pursued his Graduate Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Fine Arts.  On that same year, he directed his first Music Video under BMG Pilipinas (now Sony Music Entertainment Philippines, Inc.). He presented his first solo art exhibition in 2005 and had his first curatorial project for the exhibition entitled “boxed” in 2006. In 2007, he became a core member of Tutok, a group of artists advocating in human rights and education conditions in the Philippines. In 2008 he joined the faculty roster of Asia Pacific College, School of Multimedia Arts in Magallanes. In September that year, he married his long time partner whom he became friends with since 1990.

This year, he recently came home from a 3-month residency grant by Japan Foundation and UP Vargas Museum under the Jenesys Programme for Creators 2010.  During his stay in Japan, he was able to make a tremendous amount of time reflecting about his life, about his career and his future plans as an artist and as an individual.

After Mall Hours by J. Pacena II (artist+curator)

November 5 to 26, 2010

BLANC Peninsula Manila

G/F shops  9 & 10 Ayala Avenue,

cor.Makati Avenue, Makati City.


Free admission, the gallery is open everyday.


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