In this talk, collaborating artists Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho present their initial research on the Filipino-American modernist painter, Alfonso Ossorio (1916–1990), focusing on his 1950 mural, commonly called the Angry Christ. Born in the Philippines, Ossorio lived mostly in New York, where he became close to Jackson Pollock and other artists associated with Abstract Expressionism. Ossorio described his mural as an “animated space,” with “as rich an iconography for those who knew and for those who didn’t know… The mural comes to life.” For Lien and Camacho, Ossorio’s mural is a “multivalent cipher,” linked not only to its religious function but also to its economic and environmental context, being located in the province of Negros Occidental, the “sugar bowl of the Philippines,” which produces over half of the nation’s sugar. Lien and Camacho question whether the Angry Christ can be “radically reprogrammed” from the specific and highly-privileged subjectivity of Ossorio, its maker, and the Ossorio family’s sugar dynasty, its commissioning patron.
Introduced and moderated by Dr Roger Nelson (Australia/Singapore), an art historian and curator specialising in modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia, and currently Postdoctoral Fellow at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho (Philippines/United States/Germany) are collaborating contemporary artists, whose practice often draws on translocational formations of culture and discourse. Within this roving sensibility and method, Lien and Camacho also often engage with Philippine histories and contemporary circumstances. Lien and Camacho have been working exclusively in collaboration since 2009. They graduated together with Master of Fine Arts degrees from Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg, Germany (2014), and both artists hold undergraduate degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge, USA (both magna cum laude, 2007 and 2009). Selected solo exhibitions include: Kunstverein Freiburg (Freiburg, Germany, 2018), CCS Bard Hessel Museum (New York, USA, 2018), Green Papaya Art Projects (Quezon City, Philippines, 2009), and 47 Canal (New York, USA, 2014 and 2018). Selected group exhibitions include: Kestner Gesellschaft (Hanover, Germany, 2017), Jim Thompson Art Center (Bangkok, Thailand, 2017), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing, China, 2017), Manila Contemporary (Manila, Philippines, 2013). Lien and Camacho have been artists-in-residence at Sa Sa Art Projects (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), am Artspace (Shanghai, China), NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, and Gluck50 (Milan, Italy).
Image caption: Alfonso Ossorio, Angry Christ mural, 1950. Chapel of St Joseph the Worker, Victorias, Philippines. Courtesy Roger Nelson, 2017.