P ︎ Juan Alcazaren
MO_Space ︎ 1 – 30 June 2019

P is a thematic extension of Alcazaren’s work, “End of the Affair,” which was a part of MO_Space’s flipbook project, Flipping Out, shown at Art Fair Philippines earlier this year. In “End of the Affair,” a foot appearing to be Godzilla’s enters the frame, crushing the AFP venue — The Link, a parking garage — under it. The accompanying objects, miniature toy cars stuck in the wreckage, tell a story of what might have happened in the aftermath, also alluded to by the work’s title.

Though it could be read as a criticism of the AFP itself, the work is, at its root, a physical embodiment of the metaphor of transformation in which the space and its original function disappears, is fundamentally destroyed, replaced by another. At least, for a few days.

Here, Alcazaren exhausts the image and concept of the parking garage — the longstanding venue of AFP, the so-called dramatic transformation of which also served as its selling point — and its deliberate change into temporary spaces for art, artists, and their patrons. For the duration of the art fair, these spaces function as galleries, which in themselves are also spaces that transform each time a new show is put on in these gallery spaces. Whose spaces do these places become, for the few days or weeks that the artists’ property is “parked” there? Who are these pieces made for? Are they meant to be just looked at or are they made to be sold?

Unlike “The End of the Affair,” the moving image component of P is musically scored by Alcazaren’s 10-year-old son, Leon, and moves horizontally, as though walking along a gallery wall, let’s say. Or, a carpark. After a stretch of silhouettes that recall Roberto Chabet’s “The Labyrinth” — a work that Alcazaren has previously built upon in previous work such as 2016’s “Praxlab Project #1 (After Chabet’s Labyrinth)” and a series called “Praxedes” — one is met with signs that list off a slew of forbidden actions, beginning and ending with “No Parking,” a command that seems out of place in a space where cars (or in this case, works of art) are meant to be parked.

As the film progresses, the word itself transforms, all into p-verbs, all eliciting a bevy of different images and meanings, but linked together mainly by how they look as words. They are all meant to limit the actions of those who view it, a laundry list of things they cannot do, in that abstracted space.

It is not the first time Alcazaren has fixated on the word “no,” although this time, he elaborates on what is actually not allowed. Through this new body of work, he poses personal and ethical questions surrounding art and his own practice, especially regarding authorship and ownership, the politics of labor, and the foremost intentions of creation.

Conceptualizing the show, Alcazaren asks a series of questions: “Am I secretly hoping [my property] becomes someone else’s property after? What is property, anyway? Am I solely responsible for any loss of any valuables like faith, inspiration, reputation, friendships, lives that are carelessly left in the vehicle which is my art making? Should I make art facing the wall only? What is the hourly rate for even trying?

Should I valet? Should I get definitively smashed? Maybe just at the opening reception.”