A few days ago I had the good fortune to be invited by my friend, museum worker Ricky Francisco, to join a group of bloggers on their tour of the Lopez Museum. For those who have heard of it but have no idea where it is, it’s at the ground floor of Benpres Building in Ortigas Center, opposite BPI. The Lopez Museum has an excellent research library, as well as a premium collection of Filipino artworks and historical artifacts. Visitors would be surprised to realize how intimate its exhibit space is, and for exhibits like Deleted Scenes this intimacy works.
Deleted Scenes (which runs from Nov. 12, 2009 to Jan. 9, 2010) is the Lopez Museum’s participation in Zero In, an alliance of Metro Manila museums that share a common exhibit theme running simultaneously. The current theme, “Periphery”, deals with information on the fringes of one’s consciousness, everything on the edges of what is common knowledge that is often disregarded. In her notes curator Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez says, “This exhibition quite simply began with a question: what do I not know? Or what do I stumble upon just on the perchance that I have the time (and certainly the interest) to spare to look up what has been intentionally left out from what will get to me?… Deleted Scenes modestly explores such omissions both in pictorial and literary accounts of national history as well as in purported narratives hinged on representation that a museum such as the Lopez hesitatingly but inordinately lays out.” Co-curator, artist Claro Ramirez, designed the spaces to best reflect this concept.
Featured artists include Lyle Buencamino, Dada Docot, Sari Dalena and Al Manrique. However, also on display are works currently in the museum collection, such as those by Danilo Dalena and BenCab. But mostly what were displayed had never before been exhibited, as intellectual significance and logistical concerns usually determine what goes into the final cut. In our guided tour, Ricky Francisco explained that for years only museum workers had ever viewed the late Social Realist Al Manrique’s sketchbooks which contained his powerfully raw art because exhibiting them would have created political repression, both for the artist and the museum. They languished in storage until exhibiting them had become relevant and eye-opening.
It was a unique experience to be allowed to handle and photograph the sketchbooks. This is part of the intimacy that the Lopez Museum allows the visitors to experience, as viewing the work promotes a visceral reaction. Beside the two sketchbooks (one had editorial cartoons/sketches in pen and ink) was a box of latex medical gloves, so visitors could turn the pages without damaging the artwork. We were also instructed not to use flash photography for the same reason.
I’m also writing another blog entry on Sari Dalena’s film, “Memories of a Forgotten War” next. (Which war, you ask? Why, the Philippine-American War. There was a tragic time at the turn of the old century, when the Filipinos resisted a change in colonial rulers, and suffered greatly. Given our lifestyles today, this is something that many no longer remember, nor choose to remember.)
The Lopez Museum gives us that rare gift, of opening our eyes not only to what is before us, but also to what is around us that is easily taken for granted.
Deleted Scenes runs at the Lopez Museum from November 12, 2009 to January 9, 2010. The Lopez Memorial Museum is at G/F Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City. For more information, you may call them at (632) 631-2417, or email them at email@example.com.