Continuity • Bembol Dela Cruz

Sep 9 to Sep 28, 2016 • Tall Gallery

Taking a Dig at Today

The shovel is, symbolically and paradoxically, an object associated with both the old and the new. It denotes the parallel acts of burying and unearthing, clearing and constructing. A mundane presence in the entire material economy of progress, it changes the present but promises nothing, only the certainty of shifting circumstances.

When Bembol De La Cruz uses the metaphor of the shovel to probe the idea of continuity, he implies the urgent question of what has indeed changed, and how, in these precarious times.

The artist has earlier utilized the shovel among the objects in his body of work: to probe into the paradox of exploration, truth, and memories through a series on various digging tools in 2013 titled Unearth, for instance. In this exhibition, De La Cruz produces a series of seven paintings of shovels, each paired with seven actual shovels, spanning the walls, like portraits and busts of both the dignified and the dead. This is capped by an installation work: a grid of grim monuments composed of individual shovels embedded in cement blocks.

By appearing as central—almost colossal—forms, the shovels take a dig at today. Together, these presences form quiet signs of the times: connoting the serial progression of corpses and cover-ups, exposes and expectations, changes and continuities unfolding before our very eyes. They hint at a sense of unease at what lies next, and a growing anxiety over what can be further revealed and removed.

Lisa Ito