Live things: The Gathering Season by Reese Lansangan

Since it's not entirely a gig, a non-gig photo from the launch of Reese Lansangan's first solo exhibit, The Gathering Season.

If you’ll forgive me, I’ll write about visual arts on what is supposedly a music blog. Yes, I did come (slightly spontaneously) to the launch of The Gathering Season, the first solo exhibition of Reese Lansangan running all this month at Heima Brixton, to watch her perform. We’ve been on to her since Rainy saw her at the Greenlight Music Festival, and I felt that it would be great if we saw her perform together. Too bad Rainy had work last night.

But just calling Reese a musician is being unfair. If you’ve visited her blog you’d know that she’s a visual artist and a fashion designer too – you’ve probably seen her clothes on Preview (this I remember) or her collages on the newspapers (this I don’t). She’s the sort of person that would make me, a 25-year-old corporate slave who writes on the side, quiver with insecurity. (She’s two years younger.) The story behind how this all came together, however, made me feel a bit better about myself, not because most of the whole thing took all of last week to come together, but because, yes, we all have creative dark patches at one point.

There are twelve collages, all inspired by items collected by her friends offline and online: plants, Japanese kiddie watches, valve amplifiers, and perhaps most ingeniously, stickers from fruits sold at supermarkets. The collages are on one side; on the other are the items themselves, and in Polaroids, the thoughts of the collectors. The idea is to piece the items together like a jigsaw puzzle: there’s no one right way to look at the pieces. The result, at least to me, is a meaning that factors in both what Reese feels, what the collectors feel, and what you feel about the items. The fruit stickers, for one – who snatches those in supermarkets? Reese and I were both intrigued.

The collages themselves as whimsical, surreal without pushing it. A clear influence is printed matter from the early part of the last century: snatches of Bodoni and illustrations off children’s books, of instruction manuals and advertisements from the 1950s. The pieces definitely evoke the past, a time when you do have a lot of printed matter to make collages out of and write on, but the aesthetic is decidedly of the present: minimalist on one side, psychedelic on another.

The Gathering Season is, to put it bluntly, crammed. Reese admits to not being happy with her earlier works for the exhibit. Her mother, Len, tells me that Reese was in a bit of a creative dry patch when the collection was commissioned: she had to take a week off work to get things together. (“It doesn’t show,” I told her. Should’ve bought a can of condensed milk to prove it.) The pieces were framed only the day before; the collected pieces were assembled only on the morning before the launch.

Oh, and yes, I was there for the music, what with me being a pretend music blogger and all. I don’t know if it’s the alcohol – the Milky Wasted was particularly good; that, and a single chicken lollipop, got me through the night – or if it’s the really intimate space, with her surrounded by friends and family (and, well, me, perhaps the only civilian attending), but Reese is chatty, joke-y, and very warm. She had a five-song set, assisted by Rizza Cabrera and Seed Bunye’s ukulele, who were among the front acts; despite the background chatter (as you’d expect) she cuts through, clearly, in an endearingly ramshackle manner that befits the occasion. It’s not a bad thing: as I told her mother, it was Reese’s night, after all. [NB] (The Gathering Season runs all this month at Heima Brixton, located at Unit 103, Three Brixton Building, Brixton Street, Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City. It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10.00-19.00.)

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