The image of the city as a melting pot seems to have been thought up with the intention of making society easier to understand amidst the overlapping of different cultures. Either the dominant culture assimilates all foreign elements, or different cultures stand apart distinctly. But with every installment of the Melted City exhibit series, longtime collaborators Louie Cordero and Jordin Isip seem to be trying to complicate the idea of the city more and more by portraying intercultural dialogue as vaguely as possible.
This isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, it feels closest to the truth of our world today: infinite permutations and combinations of cultures with no defined Venn diagrams. It’s random, unpredictable, and a continuous process of discovery.
Melted City 4 ups the ante from its previous installments: over two hundred artists from the Philippines, the United States, and other locations have been commissioned to display whatever works they want on 7”x7” panels — collectively giving off the impression of windows into different views. The results are wildly varied, as expected.
One would be tempted to draw connections among works in search of common themes. There are definitely points of intersection; small objects and the human anatomy are popular subjects, Dina Gadia’s “Black Falls” and Elmer Borlongan’s “Talangka” are more on the surreal side, while David Viray’s “A Piece of Cloth,” Evan Burek’s “Right Wing Rising,” and Jose Tence Ruiz’s “Libingan ang mga Bayani” are clearly political.
But Cordero’s and Isip’s exhibits aren’t puzzles to be solved. The Melted City series has always been, more than anything, about artists from different landscapes communicating with each other through common and contrasting imagery. The exhibit really opens itself up when you abandon the search for something specific and submit to the idea of a dialogue playing out in front of you. In today’s cities wherein everyone has so much to say, the least we can do is listen.
Melted City 4 runs from January 21 to February 11 at Blanc Gallery, Quezon City.