Mabini Projects

Cumulus Blimp:
A Transnational Platform of Discourse

Friday, January 26, 2017, 6 pm

January 26 to February 23, 2018


Federico Solmi (Italy, 1973) lives and works in New York. His exhibitions, which often combine articulate installations composed of different media such as video, drawings, mechanical sculptures and paintings, use bright colors and a satirical aesthetic to portray a dystopian vision of contemporary society. Solmi’s works are satires about the evilness and the vices that affect society and mankind. The artist uses images culled from the video game industry, pop culture and the Internet, and collages them with a historical influence to produce works. The universe that Solmi likes to represent is the exaltation of a present that is crumbling apart. His work is a criticism of a system that approves and trusts without questioning the fragile foundation of culture and society. At MABINI Projects, Solmi shows The Great Expedition. This series shows absurd adventures of deluded idols. Epic battles and lavish ceremonies of western imperialism are re-enacted through an excess of misinformation, blatantly mocking textbook accounts. Humanity’s pioneering hopes and dreams culminate in technology that pervades contemporary society through a chaos of entertainment, diverting attention away from those in power, and dissolving any distinction between what is true and what is counterfeit. Solmi's works have been exhibited in several international biennials, such as including Open spaces 2018: a Kansas City arts experience (2018), the Beijing Media Art Biennale (2016), Frankfurt B3 Biennial of Moving image (2015), First Shenzhen Animation Biennial, China (2013), the 54th Venice Biennial (2011) and Site Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico (2010). His works have been exhibited and screened in the following museums and institutions for contemporary art: Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo del Zulia Maracaibo, Venezuela, the Haifa Museum of Art, Israel, Centre Pompidou, Palais De Tokyo, Paris; Drawing Center, New York; Reina Sofia National Museum, CA2M Centro De Arte Dos De Mayo, ARTIUM Museum-Centre of Contemporary Art in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain, the Italian Cultural Institute, Madrid; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Arts, Israel; OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shanghai; Australian Center of Moving Images, Melbourne; Victoria Memorial Museum, India; Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome, Palazzo Delle Belle Arti, Naples, Italy. Solmi's video have been screened in several film and video festivals around the world including the Kassel Documentary film and video festival; Tina B, Prague; Les Rencontres Internationales, Paris, Madrid, Berlin; The London International Animation Festival; Loop Barcelona and others. Federico Solmi has given lectures on his work in several universities and art schools in the United States and Europe, including Yale University in New Haven, School Of Visual Arts in New York and Accademia di Belle Arti Brera and Universita' Cattolica in Milan. Federico Solmi was awarded by the Guggenheim Foundation of New York with the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in the category Video & Audio (2009). 


Dexter Sy, who was born in Manila in 1979, artistically approaches the cultural particularities of being a Filipino of Chinese descent. Abundant allusions to religious, traditional and contemporary matters are to be found in Sy's carefully arranged paintings. Dexter Sy artistically translates the cloning of morphed cultural representations with stylized, two-dimensional paintings. Applying iconographic depiction in a classic pictorial composition, the artist emphasizes cultural patchwork. The works are reminiscent of thoroughly elaborated mind-maps and assembled selective retentions. It is as though the works are subconsciously staged as altarpieces estranged from its reliquary character through the depiction of nonreligious elements, contemporary references and a vibrant, traditional Chinese color palette. At MABINI Projects, he shows a new series titled Reclusion Perpetua. And this series deals with the internalization of a colonial attitude at the expense of homegrown cultural values, and this series can be regarded as a continuation of his solo show with 1335MABINI in 2015: Identity Crisis. When culture and tradition are not transmitted from one generation to the next, legacies will be forever lost. And, so claims Sy, this is due to the disrupting influence of what comes from outside. The alien isn’t considered barbaric – as etymology would have it – but more civilized, even when it concerns junk food. And when legacies are lost, we will be forever lost forever as well: we cannot escape from the vicious cycle of self-inflicted colonialism and we will not be able to recognize our own Pinoy identity. Sy calls out to raise questions concerning Pinoynness: what is the meaning and value of Pinoy culture? Where do we come from? Where can we go from here? Can we love ourselves if we keep attempting to emulate what is essentially foreign? How can we make a stand in an era of globalization and neo-imperialism? To conclude: has the degree of self-harm already come to a point that a sensible sense of Pinoy culture has been destroyed already or is there still hope? Dexter Sy graduated from the Far Eastern University with a major in advertising and he teaches fine art at the same university. He has had numerous solo and group shows at home and abroad. And in 2016 he was the grand prizewinner of the Philippine Art Awards (Philip Morris). In 2017, Alliance Française de Manille awarded the grand prize to Sy and the award came with a residency in La Rochelle, France. He also participated in several other residency programs in South Korea.

text by Roy Voragen