Nikki Luna presents Guerra, her latest exhibit at Casa Vicens Museum–the first masterpiece of famed architect Antoni Gaudi–in reverence to her past.
Luna always tells a narrative anchored on a feminist lens and brings light what often falls into shadows of obscurity. In the show abstract, Adjani Arumpac writes, “Nikki Luna traces her roots to this small interior town in the northeastern part of the Philippines. In Guerra, she presents her evocations of Rosario. As in the act of praying, Luna grips on the beads, each telling the story of an ordinary woman whom she calls family.”
What springs from this sentiment are artworks that carry the story in their symbolism.
The title piece “Guerra” is an 18 karat gold dipped brooch with Philippine freshwater pearls. It derives from her maternal name, and the purpose of the pearls is twofold. “The choice of using pearls is because of our Philippine national anthem’s line ‘pearl of the orient.’ Used to describe the abundance, richness, wealth of the Philippines, and most of all, the generosity of the land. But with wonder on one hand and critical thinking on the other, it sounds as though from an occupiers point of view, the pearl of the orient is ready to be occupied – that its natural resources, available ‘cheap’ labor, and fruitful opportunities are ready for the taking — just ripe/right for exploitation.”
Another piece, entitled “Labor Landscape,” tries to capture what we don’t see in luxury items such as mulberry silk. Subtle markings of blood, sweat, and tears in the fabric represent the hard work and the pain that goes into the production of the fabric.
All in all, Guerra figures well into the world crafted by Luna. The artist’s statement emphasizes her mission seen in her previous works. “The exhibit highlights the woman absent from her country, her home, and herself…I am reaffirming the value of caregiving, domestic labor, and feminized labor.”
On reflecting on our colonial past and the terrors of misogyny, she affirms the woman’s point of view told by their voice, “We have built homes and empires. It is crucial we share our stories and not the stories they tell of us. Making others reflect on that unseen woman. We must pull back the dignity and deservingness that belong to us.”
Guerra runs until June 26, 2022, with guided tours on April 2, May 7, and June 4. To learn more, log on to casavicens.org
Featured image –“Steely Bloom,” eight pieces mirror finished stainless steel.
Photos by Daniel Cao