Active Shadows
Mark Salvatus

MO_Space | Main Gallery
18 June – 17 July 2022

The title quotes a passage from George Steiner’s (2009) reflection on the books he did not write, referring to them as intimate companions of his published works. He surmised that they are more than a gap or a void but “active shadows.” Historian and literary critic Resil Mojares (2013) cites Steiner when he locates the “unwritten, unfinished, fantastical, fictitious, [and] fabricated” in Philippine history and literature. They say much about the formation and circulation of historical knowledge and the ends they eventually serve. Salvatus’s artistic practice is shaped by an intimate reworking and transformation of objects and forms, a process akin to the resonance intimated by the phrase active shadows. It embodies a form of historiography through its densely layered references to vernacular histories. His materials, whether from his family archive, his collection of Mount Banahaw paraphernalia, found objects, or those bought from flea shops, meander across time and occupy various sites.

Salvatus initiates a transfiguration of material that locates objects and forms across fragmented temporalities and multiple spatialities. Likewise, the artist places himself in an ambivalent position, producing and consuming both material and meaning. It is an artistic process that eloquently conveys an engagement with the world that rethinks the nature and value of art. He gathers sound pieces, video recordings, drawings, acrylic paintings, and various found objects for this exhibition. As with his previous show, he works around ideas of disruption and interruption, which can be sudden or subtle, the notion of reclamation, and the existence of entwined micro-ecologies in our natural and social environments. Such regard for the world is sharpened by the bouyancy of play, a discernible element in his body of works. It is inquisitive in its tinkering with materiality and process even in the most ambiguous spaces that define the narratives of history or the intimacies that pervade the everyday. It forwards the notion of a collective undertaking, an agency unfolding in the fractious atmosphere of contemporary life.

–Tessa Maria Guazon


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