The UP Vargas Museum, in partnership with Gallery VER, Silverlens, Angsuvarnsiri, and Kelvin Design, presents Homecoming/Eventually, an exhibition by Nontawat Numbenchapol and Ryan Villamael, curated by Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani. The exhibit opened virtually on 27 April.
At this time of heightened national specificity, while we are compelled to reconsider the meaning of home and belonging, the exhibition Homecoming/Eventually functions as a proposition to engage, through visual art, with the contention of homecoming particularly from the geographic perspective of Southeast Asia to which a wave of ‘homecomings’ has returned millions of overseas nationals.
Incidental to its interpretation as a celebratory event of returning from abroad, homecoming connotes not only physical movement but also the conceptual trajectory towards the place of origin, which is held as the return destination, culturally and emotionally. Considered within the geography and topography of memory, Homecoming/Eventually questions the meaning of home as a locality and its social relevance in relation to its return. What is home? Where is home? Is it a real or imagined place?
To address these inquiries into Southeast Asian trajectories, Homecoming/Eventually presents new and ongoing works by two art practitioners from Thailand and the Philippines, Nontawat Numbenchapol and Ryan Villamael. Through mixed media, video works, and photography installations, the artists investigate the significance of home and return, engaging with the physicality of the ‘terrain’ as subjective locality of belonging.
Nontawat Numbenchapol’s cinematographic work at the border between Thailand and its neighboring countries Cambodia and Myanmar focuses on the lives of individuals and communities, not unlike that of an ethnographer. His research trips to the Shan State through the years are reflected in unedited video interviews, footage and photographs of remote villages in his effort to familiarize with different cultures, and to gain, in turn, a better understanding of his own culture and homeland, Thailand.
In his works, Ryan Villamael relates mobility from a historical perspective through cartography and geographical studies. Over the years, Villamael has developed Locus Amoenus, an installation composed of finely cut latticework of geographic maps, which resembles foliage and fronds. The replica maps, from illustrations as early as the 16th century to present day, trace the history of the Philippines from the pre-Spanish era. In the installation, the maps are taken as the point of departure to further investigate the notion of territorial demarcation, and are transformed to allude to an idyllic landscape, a locus amoenus, Latin for “pleasant place.”
As part of the exhibition, the award-winning film Soil Without Land by Nontawat Numbenchapol will be screened in the museum.
The exhibition Homecoming/Eventually will be on view virtually at the Vargas Museum’s social media channels and by appointment at the Vargas Museum until 4 June 2021.
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