Aze Ong and her MONSTERS

Home is usually where the heart is, but when the people you live with, wether it be a lover, extended family, or community overstep their boundaries and encroach on personal space, then monsters appear. This is the thought process of artist, Aze Ong, for her second exhibit in Davao City titled “I am Living with Monsters”.

Usually known for her installative crocheted forms in colorful variegated hues, Aze Ong’s latest exhibit consists of amorphous shapes made of silk yarns in more somber monochromatic tones.

“Monstrosity thrives in many ways — in arenas of artworld consecration, in a society with growing statistics of dispossession, and in a domestic setting that deprives one of comfort and privacy” shared curator Laya Boquiren “One’s monsters can also thrive within, throbbing and sending jolts of pain upon provocation or confrontation. Only upon recognizing these can transformative possibilities be accessed. Thus, the exhibition invites viewers-participants and fellow dwellers to meditate: am I living with monsters?”

When asked the reason behind her shift from flamboyant colors to somber tones Aze shared her earlier influences working as a missionary assigned in Kibangay Lantapan Bukidnon for a year teaching at the Xavier de Kibangay High School and where she immersed with the community, belonging to the Talaandig tribe.

“It was then that I realized three important things after my volunteer work that explain my process” shared Aze in a later interview “One. Learning to play the tribal flute. Every afternoon my student will stay and teach me. I invented flute notes to remember to be able to repeat the melodies he was teaching. After a month there was not much progress. My student would insist he could not repeat the melody, it just comes out. One of the nuns we were with explained further that the melodies come from their hearts, it is within them and that was why it cannot be repeated.”

“Two. Attracted to the Talaandig’s clothing, I wanted to have my own. As a volunteer and a fresh graduate the amount for the clothing to be made was expensive. Asking the reason why, my co-teacher explained: My lola will have to see you, feel your character and perform a ritual asking the gods and godesses to guide the stitchwork. It takes a month or so for it to be finished.”

“Three. Witnessing performances in celebration, an elderly woman was performing. Her ‘tindig,’ her presence, her very precise movements, slow or fast, could not be missed. It was palpable. The drum beats did not seem important. She was quite in a trance, as if possessed by some god or goddess that makes her presence meaningful.”

“These are the elements that made me understand my process in creating. Intuitive. By feel. Trance. Losing oneself with work. To let go . To be free. To just flow.” said Aze “And so I must have adapted colors of what  the tribes use: the very flamboyant colors from where the influence of the environment was obvious. The striking strong yellows and oranges of wild sunflowers, the different shades of greens in vegetation against the forest, the light and dark blues-whites-greys of the clouds, etc.”

“However, coming back from New York after six months of immersion/residency-where expression of the self happens in public spaces especially the streets, parks become a platform for creativity. The change of my colors to neutral, to monochromatic-is sort of a “coming out” of the self. Neutral colors might represent courage and strength and boldness, openness, nakedness, subtlety and probably power.”

Aze Ong’s I am Living with Monsters runs until the10th of November at the Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art located at Paseo de Legaspi at the corner of Rizal and Pelayo streets, Davao City.

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