We Hide No More exhibit highlights Iloilo’s beauty, threats

Laundry washing has become an indispensable human ritual, and a clothesline could blur one’s mindfulness of what can be made public or kept private.

In Hiligaynon, the word for clothesline is haláyan, from the root word haláy (to hang). In Tagalog, however, the word hálay means lewdness or indecency. In Hiligaynon, laundry put out in the sun to dry is called hinaláy; in Tagalog hinálay means abused, violated, or raped!

The mural We Hide No More – depicting a clothesline in a provincial setting – oscillates among all the meanings of halay, halayan, and hinalay in Hiligaynon or Tagalog, as distinctly spoken in the two languages.

We Hide No More: A Mural and Exhibition by Himbon Contemporary Art Group in SM City Iloilo, February 16-28, 2021

Laundry put in conspicuous spaces to dry invites scrutiny. The things being hung (and their usually unknown owners) are both examined and assessed: the lighthearted may be amused at such sight, the hoity-toity may sneer in derision and disapproval, and the depraved may ponder impure thoughts and schemes. This mural, then, is another potential trigger for discussions on what constitutes publicity and privacy.

The mural’s rustic setting – a wide field of grass-overrun paddy at midday – starkly contrasts with the surreal and gory images emblazoned on the colorful clothes and towels that hang on the clothesline.

This is an apt representation of a beautiful and idyllic agricultural land, very much like those found in Iloilo or anywhere in the Philippines…threatened by contemporary issues made more complex by the COVID 19 pandemic: health and safety apprehensions, socio-economic anxieties, environmental concerns, existential questions, and even spiritual dilemmas.

While clothesline in art is not exactly novel, Himbon artists have made the subject less prosaic by daring to expose their innermost guarded tensions – thereby allowing themselves to become vulnerable to judgment, not unlike when people see intimate apparel hanging in very public places.

– Exhibition statement of Prof. Martin Genodepa for “We Hide No More: A Mural and Exhibition” by Himbon Contemporary Art Group in SM City Iloilo, February 16-28, 2021. The project was held with sith support from Boysen, UPV OICA, Eskinita Art Gallery and SM City Iloilo

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