Debris • Christina Quisumbing Ramilo

May 13 to Jun 7, 2021 • Tall Gallery

This is the debris of labor.

Christina Quisumbing Ramilo brings focus to the invisible labor behind works of art by using accumulated discards from studios, workshops and the supply stores that she frequents. She brings into plain sight the hours of toil and chaotic reality that come with artists’ noble role in society to enlighten, critique and record. Despite their unique position in shaping culture and politics, most artists live within a precarious economic situation. Unlike other stable wage earners, artistic labor has no fixed value.

With her distinct purist approach, Ramilo handles the detritus with minimal intervention to the conditions they were found in. Contrary to the worthless nature of discards, recycling them poses a more difficult challenge than buying new materials. Their inherent limitations in size, shape, color and quantity are a struggle to assemble, like multiple complex puzzles. These large-scale compositions may appear seemingly random but are the product of minutely deliberate intentions. Grid-like patterns draw our attention to richly textured patina. Hence she treats the material with utmost respect, exploring the relationship between chance and order, error and possibility, revealing the intrinsic beauty in what has already been overlooked or cast away.

Throughout history, the use of humble materials for art has often been a means to dissolve the borders between art and life. Ramilo brings this principle to a more personal level by selecting discards from artist friends: their used paint rags, brushes and sandpaper, and from her own discards, including hundreds of receipts that highlight the endless expenses an artist must be able to cover in order to survive without a steady source of income. Receipts form a portrait of the consumer, and in this case a vast majority of them, apart from living expenses, are from hardware stores—the main source of material for an artist who primarily makes assemblage.

Each discarded item contains clues of the original owner’s purpose. Some sandpaper pieces are more thoroughly worn out than others, with tell-tell signs of paint colors, surfaces and edges they had been used on. Painters’ rags reveal to us their preferred color palettes. Scribbles to test inks at supply stores show us what type of pens strangers have considered purchasing for their needs. These are marks of history embedded into the materials and become part of their character, such that time itself is a collaborator in the finished product.

Ramilo spent many years working jobs that involved art-related labor, including supervising at the painting department of a bronze foundry, part-timing as a gallery art handler, working at an art supply store, teaching art at university and working at the Frick Art Reference Library. Her consciousness on labor intensified when she built her own house as a monumental assemblage of recycled architectural fragments. Approaching her 60th year, a diminishing capacity for manual labor has led her to adapt the scale of her works by making smaller objects installed into groupings that form larger assemblages. As one of the few female artists in the Philippines who constructs in massive scale, she challenges expectations of the type of labor associated with women.

The Tall Gallery has allowed Ramilo the most expansive presentation thus far reflective of her studio practice: often working simultaneously on pieces whose parts have been collected over decades. Inside the white cube, we are invited to see what she sees; the faintest details become more pronounced when taken outside of their daily setting. We are posed with notions of propriety and value and question assumptions surrounding labor. The dignity of labor as a source of inspiration and investigation is given center stage with the overwhelming significance of its debris.

Stephanie Frondoso

Artworks from the Show

Zero

Zero, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used sandpaper, wood, 18×16½ in

Bouquet

Bouquet, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, 23 oil on canvas vintage flower paintings, 0×0 in

Who Is Yamada? (View)

Who Is Yamada? (View), Ling Quisumbing, 2020, Set of 9 landscape paintings by Yamada, 9½×117 in

Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used pencils from Cos Zicarelli, 3¾×2¾×2¾ in

Arrangement

Arrangement, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, 9 containers with used paintbrushes and knives from the artist and from Yasmin Sison and Mariano Ching, Elaine Navas, Pope Bacay and Johanna Helmuth, Claire Armadilla, size variable

Sampler

Sampler, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches, wood and glass frame, 16½×11½ in

Circus

Circus, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches, wood and glass frame, 18×13 in

Play List

Play List, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches, wood and glass frame, 22½×15½ in

Scribbles 1-5

Scribbles 1-5, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, ink on paper scraps from art stores from Siem Reap, Taipei, Bangkok, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Jogjakarta and others, foam board on wood, 0×0 in

Guggenheim 1

Guggenheim 1, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, test scribbles on paper from the Guggenheim, 11½×9 in

Guggenheim 2

Guggenheim 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, test scribbles on paper from the Guggenheim, 11½×9 in

Guggenheim 3

Guggenheim 3, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, test scribbles on paper from the Guggenheim, 11½×9 in

Guggenheim 4

Guggenheim 4, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, test scribbles on paper from the Guggenheim, 11½×9 in

Guggenheim 5

Guggenheim 5, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, test scribbles on paper from the Guggenheim, 11½×9 in

Guggenheim 6

Guggenheim 6, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, test scribbles on paper from the Guggenheim, 11½×9 in

Garden

Garden, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, 8 used artists’ palettes, oil on wood, 0×0 in

Pop

Pop, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches, compact disk, wood frame with glass, 18¾×16¾ in

Code Pink

Code Pink, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches and packaging, wood frame with glass, 16¾×16¾ in

Code Red

Code Red, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches and packaging, wood frame with glass, 16¾×16¾ in

Code Black

Code Black, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches and packaging, wood frame with glass, 16¾×16¾ in

Code Blue

Code Blue, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches and packaging, wood frame with glass, 16¾×19¼ in

Code Green

Code Green, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches and packaging, wood frame with glass, 16¾×18¾ in

Monograph 2

Monograph 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2019, paint on wood from Maya Muñoz, wood and glass frame, 18½×12 in

Monograph 3

Monograph 3, Ling Quisumbing, 2019, paint on wood from Maya Muñoz, 18½×12 in

Sessions

Sessions, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches and scraps, wood and acrylic frame from Karel Appel, 0×0 in

Concerta

Concerta, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches and scraps, wood and acrylic frame from Karel Appel, collab with Theo Lucero, 92×122 cm

Collage

Collage, Ling Quisumbing, 2000, hand painted color mix samples from the 1980s, wood, old frame, 9×8 in

Kite

Kite, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used wood palette from Elaine Navas, rubber floaters from Martha Atienza, string, 0×0 in

Naglutaw sa Daplin sa Dagat

Naglutaw sa Daplin sa Dagat, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, old matte board from West Gallery frame shop, rubber debris from the seashore from Martha Atienza, 23½×19 in

Lutaw

Lutaw, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, painted wood, peeled paint, old signage, rubber debris from the seashore from Martha Atienza, 0×0 in

Salin sa Inanod

Salin sa Inanod, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, fragments of rubber slippers, wood scrap from UPCFA printmaking studio, wood frame with glass, 0×0 in

Motherfucker

Motherfucker, Ling Quisumbing, 2019, handmade paper recycled from posters by Rikrit Tiravanija, wood and glass frame, 12½×12½×2 in

Endless Days

Endless Days, Ling Quisumbing, 2018, used sandpaper, wood, 8×12 ft

Twisters

Twisters, Ling Quisumbing, 2013, wire, old wooden ruler, painted wood, 39½×6×5 in

Cell

Cell, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, wood scrap from Dick Daroy, old wooden frame, 19×19 in

Painting

Painting, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paint brushes, old painted wood, 41×48×1½ in

Seasonal

Seasonal, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used metal palettes, painted wood, antique frame, 21½×17×2½ in

Screwpulous 2

Screwpulous 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used screwdrivers, wood, 36×25×1½ in

Screwpulous 1

Screwpulous 1, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used screwdrivers, wood, 44½×32×1½ in

Mend 2

Mend 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, Spools of thread, painted wood, 42×16 in

Mend 1

Mend 1, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, spools of thread, wood, 48×22 in

No Entry

No Entry, Ling Quisumbing, 2018, painted wood, 0×0 in

St. Sebastian

St. Sebastian, Ling Quisumbing, 2015, wooden arm, chopsticks, 0×0 in

Work-in-Progress

Work-in-Progress, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, carpenters’ pencil drawings and notes on wood, 22×22×2 in

Artefacts

Artefacts, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard paint swatches, old wood frame with glass, 13×17×3 in

Fenced

Fenced, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, old painted wood scraps, 36×16½×1 in

Flaps

Flaps, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cardboard scraps, old frame, wood, 14×11 in

Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ!, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, collage, gold frame with glass, 0×0 in

Level

Level, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used leveling tools, string, wood scrap from Artinformal, 25×46×3 in

Curfew

Curfew, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper, wood, 60½×40 in

Lockdown

Lockdown, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper, wood, 60½×40 in

Fuck series

Fuck series, Ling Quisumbing, 2019, handmade paper recycled from posters by Rikrit Tiravanija, wood and glass frame, 12½×12½×2 in

Vicious Cycle

Vicious Cycle, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper from Art Sanchez and Reg Yuson, painted wood, 48×72 in

Eternal  (series 1-15)

Eternal (series 1-15), Ling Quisumbing, 2021, Receipts for food, medical, hardware and others, corkboard, pins, wood, 36×24×1 in

Daily Grind

Daily Grind, Ling Quisumbing, 2016, used sandpaper, painted wood, 48×72 in

Cycles

Cycles, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, 19 pcs recycled rubber, 0×0 in

Landing 1-4

Landing 1-4, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper from Pepito Albert, wood, 0×0 in

Landing 5-8

Landing 5-8, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper from Pepito Albert, 0×0 in

The Big Blue

The Big Blue, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, wood collab with Theo Lucero, 0×0 in

Unkempt 1

Unkempt 1, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, wood, 0×0 in

Unkempt 2

Unkempt 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, wood, 0×0 in

Overcast 1

Overcast 1, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper from Leo Abaya, wood, 24×48 in

Overcast 2

Overcast 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, Used sandpaper from Leo Abaya, 24×48 in

Overcast 3

Overcast 3, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, Used sandpaper from Leo Abaya, 24×48 in

Tag-ulan 1

Tag-ulan 1, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper, wood, 24×48 in

Tag-ulan 2

Tag-ulan 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper, wood, 24×48 in

Tag-ulan 3

Tag-ulan 3, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper, wood, 24×48 in

Debris 1

Debris 1, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used sandpaper, wood, 0×0 in

Debris 2

Debris 2, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used sandpaper, wood, 0×0 in

Immerse

Immerse, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, wood frame with glass, 16½×20½ in

Afloat

Afloat, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, wood frame with glass, 16½×20½ in

Distance

Distance, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, wood frame with glass, 16½×20½ in

Plunge

Plunge, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, wood frame with glass, 16½×20½ in

Masukal

Masukal, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, narra frame with glass, 18×21½ in

Past Time

Past Time, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, old wood frame with glass, 15½×17½ in

Field Day

Field Day, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, old wood frame with glass, collab with Theo Lucero, 27½×31½ in

Kulimlim

Kulimlim, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used sandpaper from Geraldine Javier, guava branches, wood, old wood frame with glass, lighting with dimmer, 37½×27 in

Equinox

Equinox, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, painted wood scraps from Reg Yuson, found wood from Martha Atienza, 14×35×4½ in

Gregory’s Nests

Gregory’s Nests, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper rags for watercolor from Gregory Halili, old wood frame with glass, 16×10 in

Builder

Builder, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, bird’s nest, used sandpaper from Geraldine Javier, old wood and glass frame, 12×10×3½ in

Pastoral

Pastoral, Ling Quisumbing, 2015, painting, spools of thread, old wood frame with glass, 11½×15 in

Per Kilo

Per Kilo, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, old wood frame with glass, 31×26 in

Peachy Perfect

Peachy Perfect, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, used paper paint rags from Elaine Navas, old frame with glass, wood, 28½×21 in

Portal

Portal, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, old frames, wood discard from Dick Daroy, scrapwood, lighting, 21½×24½ in

Little Thorns  (black sandpaper)

Little Thorns (black sandpaper), Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used sandpaper, wood, 18×12 in

Deadline

Deadline, Ling Quisumbing, 2018, painted glass, wood, old frame, 12½×12½ in

Thirst

Thirst, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, cigarettes consumed while working on the show, plastic water container, 0×0 in

Casa

Casa, Ling Quisumbing, 2021, wood, used antique nails, caster wheels, 0×0 in

Social Distancing

Social Distancing, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, Chairs made of old wood scraps, 0×0 in

Self-Quarantine

Self-Quarantine, Ling Quisumbing, 2020, used pencils, old baluster, wood, 0×0 in