Agnes Arellano Sculptor

Myths of Creation and Destruction 1



A prominent lady approached me when I first exhibited these pieces and said: "Congratulations on your award, but I have to confess that I cannot look at your work."

A female human's carcass with hooves, hung upside-down with hooks, belly gashed, slashed, and wildly ripped open, is not a pretty sight. But I said to her: "Madam, is that all you see?"

"I can't bear to look for a second longer, ugh!", she shuddered, moving towards the more "beautiful", colourful pieces surrounding us.

She only read one side of my message: violence, destruction, horror. If she'd had the courage to look closer, she might have enjoyed the complete picture: The First Bovine- whose explosion created the Universe. For inside the carcass was the bulul. On his haunches, this rice god of tradition sat- as staunchly as he had through the ages-keeping watch over the harvest. With his creation, the bounties of the cosmos came spilling forth. Stretching out at his feet- skulls, long-dead and half-buried, chanted together to awaken the sun-creating new life in the form of music.

Creation and Destruction. Life-Death-New Life. Cycles and polarities. Can we have yin without yang?

I remembered the poet T.S. Eliot's words "Human kind cannot bear very much reality".

My work encompasses a variety of themes, including the personal, the national, and the universal. My symbolism is deliberate, and is drawn from nature, history, and myth. In this way, I hope to communicate experiences which are personal in a universal manner. Naturally, as an Asian, many of the symbols which I use are also Asian, or ones which are clearly evocative for an Asian mind.

"Myths of Creation and Destruction" which comprises two works entitled "Carcass-Cornucopia" and "Music For Making The Sun Rise," is clearly indicative of this approach. In the former, the first bovine of the Indo-Aryan myth has just exploded to create the universe. The initial impression is inevitably one of violence, which is certainly inherent in the evolution of the universe. However, the fertility symbol of creation is present in the form of the 'Bulol,' a Philippine rice god, who is shown dispensing bounty to the cosmos, in a variety of small but easily recognizable symbolic shapes and forms. In the latter, a long box, inspired by the Zen temple gardens of Kyoto, is filled with coarse sand and raked with three precisely parallel lines. These lines, together with the edges of the box, become the five lines and four spaces of a musical staff, and play host to a succession of male skulls. These skulls become the musical notes, and have the marks for sharp or flat in the center of their foreheads. A sound sculpture accompanies the piece, and is an integral part to it. It was composed on the basis of the initial placement of the skulls, arranged from a purely visual perspective, and its music rises to a crescendo, with the chanting of male voices, just before an audible sigh of relief, as the sun rises. The music utilizes a conventional synthesizer base, with an intermingling of a variety of Asian instruments from the Philippines and elsewhere, including Philippines male and female gongs, and Balinese gender, a Japanese Koto, and a Chinese Ta-lo (or triangle).

The underlying symbolism of "Myths of Creation and Destruction" is that of the dark brooding creative female, and her association with the Moon, juxtaposed with the bright deadly male element inherent in the nature of the sun.