There is a certain sense of visual awkwardness that pervades throughout Gino Javier's photographs. Perhaps it is due to the oblivious, preoccupied, or startled faces and candid postures of his subjects. Maybe it is because of the noticeable lack of editing necessary to make an image appear picturesque or even just interesting enough for Instagram. Regardless of what it is exactly, it gives the photographs an air of being factual – as truthful and informational as incriminating evidence. A camera held like a hidden gun is the perfect tool for this kind of job, just aim and then fire. They are not quite dead, only immortalized unwittingly.
This approach is very much akin to that of paparazzi except for a few things. There is a difference in their choice of prey with that of Javier’s. For the former, the game primarily consists of the figureheads of mass media machineries. The artist, on the other hand, shoots the everyday ordinary people busy with their own businesses which he manages to find everywhere he goes. Another is that paparazzi’s photographs have this express utility of being fed to celebrity halls of shame. What about Javier’s slices of time taken from the everyday?
By taking photographs of these nameless folks, pets and things, they are separated from our reality as discrete study samples. These are then sorted into groups that seem to be less an attempt to form narratives, but rather to establish and put together general types. Their titles are lengthy, eccentric wordplays using well-known Filipino sayings and expressions that verge on the nonsensical. If they are to be considered as captions of some sort, then it is difficult to see them as pictures that would try to make it easier for us to perceive a stable and coherent world-view. It is rather a collection that depicts them as they are: utterly incomprehensible, usually boring, with varied participants, and full of contradictions.
Photographs are also physical objects. Preferences and considerations of scale, format, and printing methods, among others, can influence our reading as much as what is depicted in them. One characteristic of Javier's works is that they are printed on surfaces related to packaging, billboards, posters, flyers etc., print formats that imply distribution and reproduction of images in a commercial scale. These facets cause a latent contradiction. Idealized images and their promises are replaced by matter-of-fact ones of the non-spectacle sort, which get altered, obscured or exaggerated as a consequence of the material that supports them.
This kind of idiosyncrasy echoes in this exhibition's title, Maghahalo ang balat sa tinalupan. If translated, it literally means “peelings are going to get mixed up with the peeled fruit.” But Javier pushed it a bit further by superimposing two aspects, materiality and depiction, that are conventionally incompatible ideas. We end up seeing spectres of lives and events in a standstill, trapped within bleak packaging and adverts. The phrase above is also an idiomatic expression that pertains to an unavoidable ensuing of catastrophe once certain thresholds are reached. It can be used as a threat about something that one should always be apprehensive about. Could it be then that these works try to warn us about the precariousness of our everyday lives as they are lived against the background of circumstances such as our own? Or are they manifestations of an attempt to create future artefacts for survivors of an inevitable and imminent apocalypse?