Forest Blanket • Gail Vicente

Dec 12, 2020, to Jan 9, 2021 • Video Room

Gail Vicente’s artistic practice lies in the fringes of her cultural work. As a co-founder and exhibitions coordinator of a gallery space, frequent collaborator to her friends, an archivist, conservator, and collections manager, she has her plate full of endeavors that both feed and inhibit her art production. Her interest in simple activities of the commonplace is reflected in her works that tackle home, comfort, and rest. The familiar impulse of an active member of the artworld, such as Vicente, when faced with opportunities to pause from work is restlessness. Similar to the somatic response of resistance to rest before attaining space for the self, it took time for the artist to realize that to be stripped off of regular comforts will pave the way for feelings of ease and freedom from constraint.

There is something maternal in Gail Vicente’s body of work. In her past productions, she used foot rugs because of her predisposition to use household objects. Her tasks in the gallery, in archiving, conservation, and management inform a nurturing attitude, which ebbs and flows in her artistic process. The exhibition Forest Blanket is a collection of tactile representations of transition and declarations of clarity. The artist transitioned to living in Baguio when the national lockdown was announced. Albeit abrupt and unexpected, Vicente became comfortable with her newfound displacement because she was surrounded by people who provided creative energy and support. The choice of fabric as material in her new works is layered with pragmatic and metaphoric underpinnings given her current geographic and relational context. Intermixing text and found objects, the artist fortifies the meaning-making potential of both materiality and language. Even the methods employed in creation provide another layer of significance. The displayed artworks are tender yet instructional: Do not deny yourself pleasure. Love an animal. Dream here.

When mobility becomes limited, we are subjected to enact introspection as a means of understanding. Vicente’s recent works reveal the dynamism of this action as they display sensitivity to the present. The blankets of comfort reassure us that it is encouraged to give in to the rhythmical need to rest. (Con Cabrera)