Maria Taniguchi's 'Grave Findings: A Reclamation Project'

On Taniguchi's Trail
By Walter Ang
October-December 2005
Metro Home & Entertaining

You enter a slim corridor. Flanking the walls are two glass-paneled cabinets. The air is still. The path is stark. You perceive a wider space at the end of the hall. The effect is almost ethereal.

As you enter the first part of the latest exhibit at the Lopez Memorial Museum (ground floor of Benpres Building along Julio Vargas in Pasig City), it feels as if you are being led to somewhere not of this earth. In the two vitrines found on your left and right, however, are objects that ground you to the essence of "Grave Findings: A Reclamation Project."

Brown, glazed stone effigies no bigger than your palm are placed side by side in single-file in each display case. At first glance, you may assume that they are from some sort of unearthed collection.
That's until you realize these are miniature replicas of very modern stuff ? creature comforts like laptops, pillows, cellphones and even the most intimate of possessions: a pair of boxer briefs and a pair of high-heel shoes.

These sculptures serve as a way to ease you into the source of their inspired creation: the museum's permanent collection of earthenware excavated from Calatagan, Batangas. Commissioned to interact with this particular assortment, Maria Taniguchi created the ceramic pieces as her take on "pabaon," keepsake-wishes for the afterlife.

The 24-year old artist leads you to several installations that are cleverly woven into the existing inventory of pottery from the Calatagan dig. Her lacquered bust of Dr. Robert Fox, responsible for
excavating a majority of the displayed items, stands together with the cornucopia of unpolished plates and coarse jarlets. Her video interviews of the present dig-site caretakers shine their otherworldly glow onto the polished and smooth surfaces of traded and locally crafted dishes and bowls.

Taniguchi blurs the lines that keep old and new apart, perhaps pointing out the impermanence of these tangible objects or maybe nudging us to dig deeper within ourselves so we can be more than what we leave behind.

Call Lopez Memorial Museum at 631-2417.