Garage Ecstasy, Mutant Principles • Louie Cordero

Oct 18 to Nov 8, 2018 • Tall Gallery

Mutation follows its own arcane logic that we aren’t privy to. What we know is that it occurs in response to external stimuli, whether natural or radioactive. The results are unpredictable, and often only detected after the fact. As a natural force, it knows no laws, therefore there is nothing to defy.

This volatile temperament of mutation has been a recurring theme in Louie Cordero’s body of work, emerging in different forms: physiological deformities, moral contradictions, tragicomic narratives, and the triumphant glory arising out of the mundane. Garage Ecstasy, Mutant Principles embarks on a departure away from these narratives, into what is simultaneously industrial and fantastic.

After all, the tangibly mechanical isn’t immune from mutation. Metro Manila’s urban infrastructure and geography itself has spawned countless variations of vehicles. In Cordero’s town of Malabon alone, the automotive fauna are designed to resist rust and plow through murky water. The jeeps and village gates are stainless steel to resist rust, and the tricycles are elevated on sizable wheels. Because the coastal geography of the area makes the town prone to frequent flooding, folk engineering has adapted in kind to survive.

This series of Cordero’s works undergo their own trial by fire: sliced afresh from fiberglass, bathed in toxic paint, and scorched under one thousand two hundred watts of light. The lines converge and diverge, like coursing veins or electric wires. Behind each of these nine objects are the meticulous placement of color and forms, and stenciling executed with the precision of the surgeon. There’s a chronological order in which each shade is layered, accumulating like changes in genetic sequences. The result is homogenous, bearing a gleaming synthetic sheen. If you look closely enough, you might be able to see your own reflection.

Through the cracks in the molten concrete, signs of life persist and survive. Behind every streamlined procedure of a factory is a long process of trial and error backed by mudguard wisdom, kitsch sophistication, and junk yard engineering. Cordero has a distant fascination with the vernacular of public transport, built on a certain spirit of wit, kitsch, and earnestness executed by countless craftsmen and artisans. These images speed by, leaving spectral imprints like the kaleidoscopic visions that emerge behind closed eyes after staring at the sun.

True evolution originates outside of controlled environments, where different factors collide and coalesce in a neon primordial soup—not on a cold, sterile surface of a laboratory, but a garage with walls of hollow blocks. Mutation may run rogue, but it may as well be another word for adaptation.

—Mariah Reodica