It’s been too long sine my last visit to Ribong Gallery Artspace, operated and curated by San (Santoshima) – so my apologies to her for this being the case.
Ribong is a gallery that offers extensive space for 2D and 3D arts, the individual display spaces separated by altitude, giving each a sense of individuality. They can also be reached either via direct LM, or for first-time visitors via the gallery’s lobby. Exhibitions within the spaces can be quite long-lasting (or possibly permanent); I actually reviewed Harbor Galaxy’s Alter Ego, available at Ribong 2535, in October 2019, and Bamboo Barnes’ Receding Reality at Ribong 2243 in September 2020.
More recent to Ribong is Meiló Minotaur’s Confined Within Me, located at Ribong 903. While it is a more recent exhibit than those mentioned above, it nevertheless shares something of a common theme: that of introspection, the nature of self and reflections on identity, although its core theme is perhaps somewhat deeper and potentially darker.
Starting from a large room with a small poem printed on one wall, the installation leads visitors through a pattern of spaces that grow smaller in size, including narrow hallways. Within them are figures, partially embedded in walls, or lined between the narrowing walls, slumped, eyes or mouths covered, whilst further inside the installation the figures become more smoke-like or become themselves wreathed in black, apparently trying to pull themselves apart.
The references to mental illness – depression, anxiety, depersonalisation-derealisation disorder (DPD), the sense of losing one’s own identity – losing oneself -, of being trapped within one’s life – all appear clear. Without the need for extensive exposition, but through simple representation and a six line poem that is itself incredibly powerful in its wording, Confined Within Me visualises a range of conditions that can be so debilitating to those who suffer from them, but so hard to put into words such that others might might understand.
It is an exhibition that is given additional poignancy at this time: With a global pandemic forcing people to keep apart, stay at home, avoid social contact, those caught in the web of mental illness can find their sense of separation even harder to endure, and made more visible through the need to wear face masks – something that may well be referenced by Confined Within Me through the mouth coverings worn by some of the figures (which also represent the sense of not being heard, just as the eye coverings represent the sense of not being seen.
Opening on Saturday March 20th at Ribong 1920 is Silence is the Flower, by Joss Floss, an exhibition of 2D art. Again, it shares something of a connection with the other three exhibitions, in that it explores communications and feelings, as noted in the artist’s statement on the images presented:
“Silence is the Flower” is a Japanese phrase roughly translated as “Some things are better left unsaid.” These pictures are about not saying and not showing.
– Joss Floss on Silence is the Flower
Spread across three levels (use the yellow teleport cubes to move between them), Silence presents a series of images in soft focus or which use depth of field in order to focus the eye on the flowers whilst keeping the figure (Joss) either out-of-focus or gently blurred, the idea being to allow the flowers and tone to offer the sense of mood and message within each piece.
What this might be is down to those observing each of the of the images presented here. What is clear is that the direct, unadorned method of presentation allows the eye to focus on each picture, allowing it so suggest its own story.
Whether taken individually or as part of a visit that also encompasses Alter Ego and Receding Reality, both Silence is the Flower and Confined Within Me offer two engaging exhibitions.
Mieum is rated General