“We leave traces as we live,” said Walter Benjamin. That’s the quote that my friend, artist Nadya David, used for her MFA Thesis Exhibition, “Domestic Spheres.” A bunch of her friends missed the opening last Wednesday, so she invited us to her space, to her home, where the exhibit is, so we could see it and, in her words, she could pick our brains. For one whole month, she printed on her walls, her furniture, the toilet, the ceiling, even the roll of tissue in the bathroom; she left traces of herself all over her abode, not only marking her territory, but also to say that, hey, I am here!
It can be quite overwhelming when you first enter her apartment. Almost every inch of it is covered in acrylic paint. Some people were already there when I arrived and were animatedly discussing her work. I quietly walked around, took pictures, and nibbled on my food while listening to the conversation. I couldn’t really articulate it at first, but I felt claustrophobic in that space. It looked so familiar and yet extremely alien at the same time. There was an explosion of color in all of the rooms. It’s as if an enormous clown had too much to drink one night and had spewed candy-colored vomit in his wake. Pretty would not be the word I would use; more like visceral and organic and intriguing. She had a TV, a sofa, a bed, kitchen counter… all of these things are familiar to me, something that I use everyday, and yet hers were exotic.
I stayed a bit more after our other friends had left. We chatted about a gamut of different things, ordinary things about life. And then it hit me: the terrain wasn’t alien. I was the stranger in this land. This was her territory and I was The Other. It wasn’t menacing or welcoming; It was just different. And I understood her work a bit more. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all want to leave a mark in this world. That is the probably the reason why some people get married and have kids, set up clubs and foundations, write books and make art. We are all faced with our mortality, that one day we are going to go away and fade into nothingness. Some desperately aim for greatness on a bigger stage—be the top honcho of a company, have his or her name printed on a gold-plated sign and displayed for all the world to see. World Domination, they say. But I don’t see that happening in this space. The artist, in her quest for being seen and being remembered, didn’t reach too far off her field. She focused on her own little space, her domestic sphere, and, as a result, made every inch of it her own.
Domestic Spheres runs from March 14-27 and April 10-16. Monday to Friday, 3-6PM. Please call for appointment 0917.4245979. Facebook page: DOMESTIC SPHERES. Located at Unit P6 Burgundy Place Condominium, #174 B. Gonzales St. corner Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines.
PD. A personal note to my friend: Like I always say, great art makes you think and leaves a lasting impression. Thank you for making me think about my own domestic sphere.