The Equivocal Life of Things


In this writer’s conversation with the artist Ged Merino, autocorrect has given way to a tangent that nitpicks at the value we attach to things. The artist was describing the phenomenon of having things kept away indefinitely and the inability to rid of them despite their disjunct function to realities we presently keep. Autocorrect has published it as “humanistic” when in fact Merino meant “humoristic” as a point to make in the irony of holding on to things. However mystifying, the trajectories we imbed to objects is in fact a human exercise. In the matter of attachment, the value of things are in how they circulate – akin to gaining and moving through a social life. Ged Merino alludes to peculiar periods of things when their “original” function for which they are constructed for is no longer such. Rather, they are reconfigured to suit a new design – from a playful arrangement to becoming an available fixture to hold together an apparatus, amongst many permutations. The hashtag #foundbliss created by the artist leads to an Instagram grid of thumbnails abbreviating such white elephants on the streets as he maps a geography of “abandoned” objects in public spaces. These images would considerably inform Merino’s tendency for repurposed and repurposing materials. This notion that value is held over objects that endures the caprice of  owning them is employed by Merino by  recovering textiles and other objects to construct his works.


This oxymoronic conjecture between attachment and resistance to fixate could perhaps lead to an understanding of the mechanics of desire. As the former extends life beyond an object’s predisposed function, perhaps resisting the desire to possess them (from the get-go or for long) then prompts the activity of repurposing an aspect of the object. It could only be guessed that it is these two states (or, more aptly, the solipsistic sequence) that that Merino inquires into when fending for materiality in his life and practice. With the notion that discarded materials were always possessions at some point, the artist often uses personal and found objects.


“From the Catalogue of Desire”, the current project undertaken by Ged Merino, follows this trajectory by alluding to the significance of ordinary articles of life fading proportionally as they lose their original functions. The anamorphic figures formed by the volume of materials hint towards things that are anticipated to garner sentiment as they wear out. Perhaps suggesting the shape of a shoe or a stuff toy, these fabric art are constructed with materials accessible mostly in Manila, where Merino worked on this series this year. In the documentation of his process, we are introduced to the alleys and crowded bangketas (sidewalks) of Manila. The artist’s hand extends now and then to acknowledge the fabrics printed with high-end brand logos and symbols of mass culture – a plethora of colors and icons mirroring the bustle of life that surrounds them. We continue then to witness Merino cutting up textiles and compressing foam, eventually twisting and binding all these materials in intuitive and scrupulous gesture to construct these freestanding three dimensional pieces. From the previous series (“Metamorphosis” in Drawing Room Manila, 2012) of draping fabric artworks, Merino expands the sculptural potential of his interest in materiality. The fundamental characteristic of textile as flat and one-dimensional is overcome as he layers them over and around each other. Aesthetically consistent, Merino’s works bear his trademark tendency for abstraction as an accumulation of multiple conditions surrounding his practice. And yet, they stand as iconic anatomies clustered by tonal values and formalistic build up.


Navigating through the threads that bind Merino’s sculptures in “From the Catalogue of Desire”, we sense this entanglement of things that are no longer whole or complete in their original purpose. While we are left with an extracted portion or the last existing scrap, it likewise suggests an excess of them. Very much like desire, these works are wound up with the crosshatch of an incapacity to part with something which has an ambivalent purpose in the first place. Hence, Merino archives and builds up everyday things as an exercise of giving density and form to an otherwise abstracted experience.

Sidd Perez, 2015.