EXHIBITION - Placard Show
Placard: Signs of the Times (Art Exhibition, as part of the International Conference of Progressive Culture)
The PLACARD SHOW opens JULY 6, 2011, 4:00 P.M., University of the Philippines Vargas Museum grounds and basement.
They are generally defined signs or notices posted in a public place, usually as an advertisement.
Placards. For most part of human and visual history, they have been used and produced for humbly functional, utilitarian purposes: to announce the contents of a space; to announce the opening, or closing, of shop; to assure customers of business as usual. To mark the goings and comings of commerce, to commercialize the necessities of daily life. How would have modern market capitalism fared without placards?
Placards. Painted and printed, nailed and hung, they are remnants of a disappearing way of life, in this era of globalization and digital technology where data and images can theoretically travel from one side of the world to another in mere seconds. Or perhaps not: they always have been
adaptive, taking on new forms to serve the same old purposes. In nations where unequal development is a way of life, one can find the most peculiar of placards: popping up in the rural countryside or in the urban slums, hawking products, goods, or services.
In contrast, the placards of protests have the powerful potential to speak another language: exhortations to see beneath the surface and look beyond the boundaries of the system. The signs carried by protestors are mobile, ephemeral, and capable of being carried from one rallying point to another; fluid forms and spaces of protest. For most part, they have been signifiers of the status quo. But in many other places and circumstances, these signs
call for change: dissent, reform, and even revolution.
Placards. They can be used as signs of protest, or conversely as mockery of protest. They use the power of the words and of texts as a weapon; if wielded, they can literally be used as weapons.
In the context of protest, placards can be spontaneously produced: indignant in the flash of outrage, or a witty contribution to the “tit for tat” in the public arena. But they can also reflect the discipline and efficiency of an organization: many messages can be lost in the sea of
works, and it is vital to choose the calls and colors that will convey the message most clearly.
In the rural communities, placards can mirror the people’s will to stuggle against all odds, painstakingly produced despite the massive scarcity of resources: a sack, a treasured sheet of manila paper.
Placards. Plain for most part, they have no pretensions about wanting to be elevated or reconstituted into a form of Art/art. The standards are different here. They are judged by their clarity and ability to communicate to a public far beyond the purveyors of galleries and museums.
The essence is in public participation. It does not matter if one if is from the art scene, the labor unions, or the environmental groups; if the maker of the placard is a National Artist or an ally from the sidelines. Sometimes, it does not matter who the creator is for as long as one has a relevant message. Sometimes, the point is to say it.