Studying the process of weaving, Ninel Constantino, daughter of renowned historian Renato Constanino, realizes that it resembles how memory works. Weavings are made by the intertwining of threads in two directions – the warp and the weft – metaphorically symbolizing the dynamics of remembering and forgetting. To cope with the limitations of our memory, or to adapt with events that occur, perhaps for one’s self-defense or survival, there are memories that one remembers, and there are those that one forgets.
It is this reflection that piqued the curiosity of Ninel Constantino to experiment on weaving together objects and materials that came from her personal life. She used as her experimental loom her childhood toys while she was living in China, the bag she was using at work, her late grandfather’s typewriter and reading chair, and even her wedding dress and her couple bed before her marriage turned sour. She poetically turned the abstract activity of memory-weaving into something physical, something tangible, something that she can hold.
The artist banks on her personal memories embedded in these objects, letting the viewer have a peek into her deepest memories – both the joyful and the sad ones, both the inspiring and the painful ones. This gradient of memories, reinforced by the objects, are what constitute Ninel.
For almost an entire year, she spent time performing this repetitive, sometimes mundane, gesture of weaving strands of her personal effects and materials on these objects, often getting lost in her own sea of thoughts during the process, where she “remembers as she forgets, forgets as she remembers”. This cycle continues on.
In her sentimental works, Ninel Constantino highlights how one leaves fragments of the self into places and objects – the tangible manifestations of one’s memories. Loosely referencing Rebecca Solnit in her book “A Field Guide to Getting Lost”, it is true that one may not be able to return to those moments of joy, sadness, love, or hurt, but it is these places and objects that one can return to.
The artist also recognizes the inevitability of forgetting, and she wishes to provide the viewer the platform to reflect upon what figments of our memories do we wish to arrest forgetting – what we wish to remember.
The exhibition ran from the 20th of January to the 8th of February 2017, at the College of Fine Arts Gallery, University of the Philippines – Diliman, Quezon City.