Mind-ing and mine-ing the pandemic

Anjo Bolarda did a show at Vinyl on Vinyl earlier this year, titled Mine. Anjo likened the sudden craze over plants (e.g. plantitos plantitas) which started during the lockdown in 2020, to mining-- as in mining precious metals or gems. The exhibit note, written by Kaye O'yek, titled Foliage Fools Rush In, clearly expounded how the artist came to weave this plant-craze (what I will call plantitX phenomenon) with mining, an unseeming pair of activities.

I find this exhibit most interesting on the following accounts:

First, this is a kind of exhibit that was enabled by a particular situation (the pandemic) but the exhibit abstracted the anxiety of the situation and flipped it over to something that is reasonably humorous. This to me is not escapism but tapping into a higher form of intelligence where you direct your emotions (no matter how dark) to something more productive.

Second, the art produced echoed the life that it is critiquing or reacting to-- he painted plants! and since it is a selling show, he is encouraging people to collect plants on paper... the exhibit note sort of closed with this one. I thought this was curious. I am not entirely sure if the artist intentionally played this irony or he didn't actually see it happening. If he did play it intentionally,  I wonder what the motives are? And to what end? If he didn't... how can he not?! His un/consciousness of such irony will determine in which light the exhibit will have to be understood vis-a-vis plantitX phenomenon. But regardless of this, or maybe because of this enmeshment with the realness of real life, that I favored to pay attention to this exhibit. More than mining, I thought this is mind-ing or being mindful of one's present condition, and mine-ing or owning it, if not entirely rising above it.

And third, my personal favorite in all kinds of art is when it has a potential to keep on living or have an after life (not zombie lah! but alive-life). The art does not have to stop with the exhibition. The artist could keep on thinking his thoughts that gave him this show and come up with another series of works that will have a totally different meaning. Usually this kind of dynamism in the process of creation happens when the artist works with an idea, concept or construct that is closest to him, one that he truly understands or at least would like to understand. This is my absolute favorite because it manifests that art is alive as an organism that shares our eco-system— not entirely an eco-system on its own that is autonomous, unflinching and infallible.

Above all these, I thought that the exhibit was brave. Human's "survival tactics" (i.e. the things we do to preserve our humanity; i.e. this plant phenomenon in time of pandemic) may be a matter of spectacle-- hence the show Survivors. But magnifying it with different lenses (i.e. media, art) poses the danger of trivializing or misrepresenting the underlying struggle. It is a very thin precarious line. But one that should not be not crossed. Instead we should be mindful that it takes a certain kind of courage and humility to cross it. Think things more thoroughly and thoughtfully. And be ready to be deemed mistaken, as much as you are ready to be right.