Die Map for Gudbuys | POKLONG ANADING

We can say that Poklong Anading is an alchemist of the ordinary. And yet it would be more precise to call him a meta-alchemist, for his work, while surprising and pleasing us, makes us keenly aware of the impossibility of true transcendence or transformation of matter without remainder. In “Without With”, for example, dreamed-of gold is only spraypainted and is meant to flake off, turning back to dust. In “Anonymity,” light itself—that symbol of immateriality—becomes the mark of erasure, the opaque light of the negative.

Anading’s materials could not help but retain their materiality as materials. This is seen most clearly in his drawings: pencil lines (even as they are animated by a video documenting how they are made) become a wall of graphite (“Line Drawing”); bright geometric shapes coincide with actual creases on crumpled paper (“Black and Gold Series”; and abstract contours are but outlines of found, discarded woodboard cutouts (“Dragon Kites”).

The artist’s choice of materials—the accidental (folds, creases, cutouts), and the discarded (human fat, plastic bags) —places an emphasis on the by-product, exposing our very condition: In our world, the forward march of Capital tends to no real end-product in the first place. Everything becomes a by-product as the doctrine of built-in obsolescence and innovation conceives of every commodity as a disposable good. The end-product is but a mirage wavering at the horizon of the production line. The plastic shopping bags—those flags blowing in the wind of consumerism—are emblematic of this realization. And the plastic bags over people’s heads in Anading’s aptly titled “——–”, suggests even further, in no uncertain terms, that selfhood itself is a by-product of Capital.

These portraits and the pictures of “Anonymity” foreground these and other questions of subjectivity under the plastic shroud and the hard light of Capital. These portraits are mirror images of each other, punctuating the exhibit. They express the defining conundrum of our times. The question they ask is this: How do you face the problem if the problem is your face?
Jose Perez Beduya

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