Sunday, May 2, 2010

'You do not have to be good'

This was how I spent the first of May, doing an act of avoidance, of postponing prioritized deadlines for the challenge of translating a poem by Mary Oliver again. Today, I knocked off one deadline. Tomorrow, I'll do a Scarlett O'Hara. Thank you, Padma Perez, for posting the Oliver poem in your blog.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

--Mary Oliver

Mga Gansang Ligaw

Di mo kailangan maging mabait.
Di mo kailangan lumakad nang paluhod
Ng isang daang milya sa disyerto, humihingi ng tawad
Kailangan mo lang na payagan ang malambot na hayop ng iyong katawan na mahalin ang gusto niyang mahalin
Sabihin mo sa akin ang iyong kawalan ng pag-asa, at sasabihin ko sa iyo ang akin
Samantala patuloy ang mundo.
Samantala ang araw at ang mga malinaw na bato ng ulan
ay gumagalaw sa kalawakan
sa mga kapatagan at kalaliman ng mga puno
Sa mga bundok at ilog.
Samantala, ang mga gansang ligaw, sa kaitaasan ng malinis na bughaw na hangin
ay pauwi na muli.
Kung sino ka man, gaano ka man kalungkot,
inaalay ng mundo ang kanyang sarili sa iyong imahinasyon
tinatawag ka tulad ng mga gansang ligaw, marahas at nakakagulat—
paulit-ulit na inaanunsyo ang iyong lugar
sa pamilya ng mga bagay-bagay.

--tinangkang isalin sa Pilipino ni Babeth Lolarga

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tin Garcia on women in bondage: 'It’s all about choice. And I like to glorify choice'

Thin Tin Garcia, Tintin to others, Tintinnabulation to me, has always struck me as one of those fascinating, in-your-face young women (my measure of youth being those below 40). She is refreshingly but not brutally frank, the edges softened by her love for, uhm, floral Doc Martens.

So it is fitting that her joint exhibit with Lala Gallardo is called “Softcorps,” a play on the term “soft core” pornography because her paintings depict bound women while Lala works with fragile paper. (The show is ongoing at Pablo Gallery, Cubao Expo, Araneta Center, Quezon City, until May 6.)

Her position (I just realized there’s an unintended double entendre in my use of the word “position”) on her painting subjects may invite some controversy, she being a feminist who doesn’t shirk from being called one.

Here is how she explains her position (there, I typed it again!): “There has always been talk of The Male Gaze in art, when the viewer is subjected to the perspective of a straight male while looking at a painting or work of art. I painted my bound women to show that they chose to be bound and they would gladly be subjects of the male gaze if they can get some cathartic pleasure from it. There’s a lot of hair-splitting on whether this consciously objectifies women, but I still think paintings and works of art are best when they are left alone to ‘talk’ to the viewer and tell their own stories. It’s the only way they can have personal resonance.”

Furthermore, the 34-year-old Tin, a University of the Philippines fine arts graduate, is “intrigued by the bondage and bondage/discipline-sadomasochism (BDSM) lifestyle for a number of reasons. While it may seem like a chaotic, free-for-all kink to many, it actually has a lot of layers of trust involved before a successful BDSM partnership can push through. Suffice it to say it’s all about choice. And I like to glorify choice.”

She cites a precedent in art history: “Rembrandt painted Andromeda chained to the rocks, awaiting rescue from Perseus, which is what I’d loosely call an example of a bound woman in art. But I painted women who chose to be bound and do not wait for someone to unbind them unless they say so. Or unless they utter a ‘safe word,’ another facet of BDSM trust.”

How a singularly sensational woman like Tin arrived at her own style goes back to early summers when her mother enrolled her and her brother at summer art schools to "prevent us from wreaking havoc on our walls with colored markers. I remember drawing on my textbooks at Saint Theresa’s College instead of taking down notes. That made my school books un-hand-me-down-able to younger kith and kin. As for exhibiting my stuff, my earliest experience would be at the former Museum of Philippine Art near Rizal Park in the 1980s as an eight-year old student.”

Her former STC classmates find her “weird” because she chooses to remain “unhitched.” She can relate only with gays, straight men and a few women her age like the de Leon sisters, Sinag and Ani, and visual artist Lyra Garcellano.

As for women my age who consider Tin barkada, it is for reasons remarkably obvious.

Photo shows an oil painting by Tin Garcia.