Imagined Artefacts examines and repurposes the rationale of a natural history museum. The exhibition takes the existence of a natural museum as a space that collects and preserves artefacts for purposes of study and public display and appropriates it as a setting for the fantasy landscapes of artist Rom Villaseran. The artist uses, as a foundational device, his large canvas triptych “Dragonfly” to establish the existence of another world. The painting is representative of the world-making practice of Villaseran, being a landscape of a fantasy realm in the process of decay. The rest of the exhibition attempts to document the flora and fauna of this world by using devices one would normally see in natural history museums– lightbox illustrations, a display cabinet of fossilized bones, and containers of sculptural works in the manner of “preserved” fauna.

The underlying basis of Villaseran’s practice draws upon his fertile imagination to create rich fantasy landscapes. His early career exposed him to an aesthetic style that was common in the underground independent music scene of Manila in the mid to late 90s, when he created album art for many of the fledging bands at the time. This approach is reminiscent of street art stencilling combined with ink pen and line. For this exhibition, “Dragonfly” is a large triptych (104.5 in x 68 in) that presents a fantasy landscape that, from left to right, shows the effects of decay–the leftmost piece being the age before man and the rightmost being the age after man. The titular “dragonfly,” seen in the middle piece, is both an example of a creature within this world and a witness to its birth and death. The placement of this triptych is envisioned to be on the centre panel, as to be the dominant image in the exhibition booth.

External Links:

Philippine Daily Inquirer Feature

The Philippine Star Feature