Revolver • Alvin Zafra

Jun 10 to Jun 30, 2014 • Video Room

Alvin Zafra’s distinctive approach of treating art as the transference of an object’s substance into a given surface is revisited through the use of video and sound. The scenes demonstrate how he grinds a piece of an improvised revolver, reducing its form through contact with another surface—the metal grinder. The soundtrack is replaced by music composed for the image, as both image and sound are spliced together to generate a rhythmic performance of the subject’s progression into metal dust, an elegy of its own demise.

By documenting a scene of a .38 caliber pistol being grinded into obliteration, he presents, yet another, process of transformation. As evident in many of his works, the role of medium and surface is always blurred. He forms images through friction, not application. Through course surfaces like sandpaper or abrasive boards, he draws imagery by grinding objects against it, as the role between instrument and subject becomes indistinct.

In Revolver, Zafra grinds steel against steel, and the power that the image of the gun wields is subjected to the power of another instrument—the grinder. The whole scene becomes a parody for the gun’s own violent end. Through this process, Zafra reveals questions not only about the destructive efficiency of tools, but also their conflicting nature, as he sees the revolver as an instrument one would disdain from using, and yet an instrument which offers (as of yet) no better alternative in achieving its function in terms of keeping peace and order. His idea echoes modern arguments about the choices society has to decide individually–whether to be for or against certain concepts.

In the end, the whole process of grinding a gun into its own abolition is not only a demonstration of yielding power, but also of the mutability of materials. It is the documentation of eradication, of the susceptibility of any given object, as well as any idea, into dust.

—Cocoy Lumbao