A Soft Place to Land

A Soft Place to Land
3 - 24 July 2022
Pintô Art Museum
Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines

Tactile, malleable, diaphanous—these are only some of the handful characteristics of the chosen medium of Celline Mercado for her solo exhibition, A Soft Place to Land. Fabric—used from Home Economics to haute couture—becomes both the embodied and the expressive gesture in this suite of works that resemble storybook illustrations which, in their translation as soft sculptures, open up connections with childhood memory, nostalgia, and the primeval sense of color, texture, and kinesthesia.

For the artist, the technique of sewing is an act of reclamation of the delicate power endowed in an art form considered as “craft-based” and denigrated as feminine and inconsequential. The prick of the needle into the cloth is an assertion of agency, with each stitch a “processing of my experiences and trauma as a woman. Everything seems to be rigged against women.” The beds, the windows, the song-inscribed hearts, the eloquent folds of a vulva are the tender articulations of an artist in search of “comfort, safety, and more kindness from reality.”

These qualities, which we associate with the domestic sphere, become all the more urgent in light of a pandemic that is thankfully waning. As virtues of art, they testify to some of the most ineradicable needs. In our skepticism of human connection and pessimism of the world, we forget that distinct pleasures can be had from a flawlessly made bed, from the fluttering of the curtain in an open window, from the wild belting of a Dolly Parton song even in a wrong key.

Central in the show is the participatory piece, Blue Blanket. While similar to David Medalla’s A Stich in Time, the towering veil-like work requires the viewer to sew their fervent wishes and dreams with threaded words and images. “I was trying to explore notions of loss and unfulfilled dreams—things people had to give up before the pandemic happened,” states Celline. A membrane bridging the artist and the viewer, this work, just like the other pieces in A Soft Place to Land, provides a metaphorical cushion on which to rest the tired bones of the soul.

—Carlomar Daoana

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