Stuck on Pause
About the exhibition
Riza Manalo’s Stuck on Pause draws from a deeply felt hemmed in existence, the rending of a sense of self several times displaced, from an abode she used to be able to leave and return to, from fairly unbridled work that taunted the limits of imagination, from an even more distant home where dearest relations can no longer be visited and lent care. The showing is phantom-like. Objects come upon the exhibit site through a stream of transmittals, optimized by the near wiping off of traces that track back to the human that sends them over. Manalo’s body effluents (saliva, tears, scratch markings, and then some) wend their way onsite parasitically, congealing upon the crafted and found even as maker and finder cannot tread into where beholders breathe within, touch walls, and pounce upon floors. The recalcitrant gesture to set out what keeps getting rendered as inadmissible, of the gentle mending of fragments, of reframing the estranged, streaming and stitching of unmade memories — stake proofs of life upon territory forbidden to the disobedient, disinvited, and other ordered.
Stuck on Pause
This is an audio description for Riza Manalo’s exhibition, Stuck on Pause, presented by Nexus Arts Gallery on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia. The exhibition is available to experience in person from the 30th June to the 22nd of July 2022.
Riza Manalo is a visual artist of Filipino-French descent who recently moved to South Australia from Melbourne and is now living in the regional area on the west bank of the Murray River. Manalo creates work that spans public performance, sound,video,and installation. In her research and practice, she examines the importance of artistic representation of lived experiences in understanding the production of social and cultural meanings in public spaces.
Manalo’s exhibition statement reads: Stuck on Pause draws from a deeply felt hemmed in existence, the rending of a sense of self several times displaced, from an abode she used to be able to leave and return to, from fairly unbridled work that taunted the limits of imagination, from an even more distant home where dearest relations can no longer be visited and lent care. The showing is phantom-like. Objects come upon the exhibit site through a stream of transmittals, optimized by the near wiping off of traces that track back to the human that sends them over. Manalo’s Body effluents (saliva, tears, scratch markings, and then some) wend their way onsite parasitically, congealing upon the crafted and found even as maker and finder cannot tread into where beholders breathe within, touch walls, and pounce upon floors. The recalcitrant gesture to set out what keeps getting rendered as inadmissible, of the gentle mending of fragments, of reframing the estranged, streaming and stitching of unmade memories—stake proofs of life upon territory forbidden to the disobedient, disinvited, and other ordered.
This exhibition is in the Nexus Arts Gallery, which is a white rectangular room around 4m wide and 6m long, with a thick white column in the centre. The gallery walls are filled with many small works of Manalo’s, and the centre of the room features one of Manalo’s works at the base of the column.
Promises, 2022, Saliva and Sugar, Dimensions variable, NFS
The first artwork to the left as you enter the gallery is on a small, white shelf mounted to the wall. The shelf is around 20x20cm, and 5cm high. Atop this shelf sits a delicate, intricately engraved crystal saucer on a small round silver mount. Sitting in the saucer is a 3cm-wide dome of bright orange jelly candy, the surface of which is pitted with tiny dents. The candy is made from the artist’s saliva.
Just Passing Through, 2022, Limited Edition Artist Stamp, 40 x 40 mm
Artist Price : 400.00
Stuck On Pause, 2022, Limited Edition Artist Stamp, 40 x 40 mm
Artist Price : 400.00
Moving around the room, the next long white wall displays multiple small artworks. The first two are set in thick white frames with white mountboard, each frame around 25cm x 25cm. In the centre of each of these frames is a postage stamp, around 3cm square.
The first stamp features a high-contrast, blurred image of a person, with a speech block with the word “unnamed”. Beside the person is a black background, with the white text, JUST PASSING THOUGH. EVERY WHERE, SOME WHERE, ELSE WHERE, NO WHERE. Miniscule white text reads ‘manalo 2022 20x’. The border around the image is white with the classic perforated stamp edge. At the base of the stamp is black text reading Australa – $1.10.
The second stamp features a light blue and white image that looks like a blurred map. In the centre of the stamp, black text reads: ‘Am I the only one who is stuck on pause, like a perpetual comma? While the world plays musical wallpaper on repeat.’ Then below a dotted black line, even smaller text reads, “Manalo 2022 20x”. This stamp also has a white border which reads Australia – $1.10, and a perforated edge.
Error 403, 2022, Handmade paper and wax, 14 x 20cm
Artist Price : 400.00
The next artwork along the wall is a letter in a white picture frame, around 20cm wide and 25cm high. The small letter within is unfolded, showing the faint imprint of text upside down on the opposite side, reading ‘remote viewing, 16.05.22, riza manalo.
On the facing side, it reads in typewritten black text:
Error 403 – Forbidden
When logging in, I get stuck in a paused state.
Pressing the delete bar does not resolve the problem.
More than that, the current system seems so restructure but I can not change the settings. The restart button is unresponsive – leaving an error message,
“Your system needs an upgrade or your access will be denied.”
//// I have attempted to force quit my way out of this mess but the same forbidden error persists.
No Words, 2022, Human hair, handmade paper, wax and bamboo boxes, dimensions variable
Artist Price : 1600.00
Below the letter is a wooden plinth, the top around 30cm x 30cm, the height around 1m. The glass top of the plinth is transparent. Within it, around 10cm down, is a flat waxy surface. On this surface is a stack of white handmade paper tied up with string made from dark brown hair.
Remote Viewing, 2022, Laid paper, envelopes, wax, gouache and limited edition artist stamps, dimensions variable
The next artwork features a small, white, square shelf set into the wall. Atop this shelf, pushed into a corner, is a small glass jar. Inside the jar, its base is at a diagonal angle, and inside the jar are four lead pencils. Written on the side of these pencils is ‘write to me,’ ‘tell me’, ‘say something,’ and ‘your thoughts’.
Around 40cm above this shelf is a small white picture frame, around 15cm across and 10cm high. The frame is filled with a flat layer of off-white wax.
Beside this are two small wooden letter boxes, open at the top and affixed to the wall, each filled with many envelopes. The envelopes in the lefthand box are stamped with the postage stamp from the first artwork, a blurred image of a person, and addressed to Nexus Arts. The second stack of envelopes are all stamped with the second artwork’s blue and white stamp, and addressed simply ‘to the artist.’
Stasis, 2021, Short Edition 1/1, Digital Video and Sound, Total running time: 00:46 seconds
Artist Price: 3,700
In the corner of the room is a TV set on the ground. It is set at a slight diagonal, on black blocks. The video features 46 seconds of a dragonfly, up close, seen through a transparent scratched surface. In the background is a long panel with black dots, receding into the distance.
Magic Carpet, 2022, Australian notes money tin and aluminium coloured rivets, dimensions variable
Artist Price : 2700.00
Continuing around the room along the shorter back wall, a large flat artwork around the size of a single bed lays at a diagonal angle, partially against the wall, mostly on the floor. The artwork is a flat piece composed of enlarged prints of Australian currency which has been cut from money tins. The notes are patched together at right angles with metal rivets.
Are Days Are Vessels, 2022, Six old tea tins and used postage stamps, dimensions variable
Artist Price : 600.00
Also along the back wall is a small, shallow wooden shelf holding three larger brown packages covered with the artist’s stamps. Beside this is a small metal tin covered with stamps, and in front of this are many tiny paper aeroplanes folded from postage stamps.
Waiting, 2022, Old stool, gold pigment, glass jars, wax, used postage stamps and broken wishbone, dimensions variable
In the corner to the right of that shelf is a low wooden stool with black iron legs, atop which are two glass jars: one full of the postage stamp paper planes, one with a broken wishbone around 4cm long.
Travelling Radii, 2022
Postage stamps, letters, old book spine and pages
Artist Price : 500.00
Above the stool and to the right is a thick white square picture frame. In the centre is a collage of postage stamps, letters and paper on card.
Pre-Nostalgia, 2022, used postage stamps and wooden thread spool, dimensions variable
Artist Price : 400.00
The next wall has a short section before an indent, creating another small corner around 10cm deep, before continuing on the main longer wall. This 10cm section contains a long thin artwork: a wooden sewing bobbin, mounted against the wall, around which is wound a long strip of postage stamps stuck together. The long strip hangs down from the bobbin, extending around 1.5m. The end is around 2cm off the floor.
Spirit Level, 2022, Tears mixed with sea water, restored wooden spirit level, 76.5 x 3 x 7 cm
Further along the long wall is an old-fashioned wooden spirit level. Around 60cm long, it is mounted to the wall on its side, and the bubble in the spirit level is hidden away at the very end of the glass tube. The liquid has been replaced with tears and sea water. On the top surface to the right is a small circular opening, plugged with off-white wax.
The final work on this wall is a set of five white picture frames all around 30cm x 20cm, salon hung closely together.
The Clock, 2022, Used postcard and postage stamps,30×40 cm
ArtistPrice : 500.00
Off-Grid, 2022, Wooden frame, photographs, used packing tape and cardboard,30×40 cm
Artist Price : 600.00
The Square, 2022, Used postcard and postage stamps,30×40 cm
Artist Price : 500.00
The Eye, 2022, Used postcard and postage stamps,30×40 cm
Artist Price : 500.00
The Bridge, 2022,Used postcard and postage stamps,30×40 cm
Artist Price : 500.00
Within the white frames are small collages. The centre one, Off-Grid, shows the back of another picture frame, collaged with paper and packing tape. The others hold long pieces of brown card collaged with postage stamps, postcards and paper.
Wish You Were Here, 2022, Souvenir spoons and wooden display rack, dimensions variable
Turning a corner to face the first short wall, the wall to the side of the entrance hosts a large white wooden block in the shape of Australia. On this block are mounted three short shelves, from which dangle 36 small silver spoons, each with its own style. As is traditional in Australia and elsewhere, each of the spoons has space for a decorative motif on the end of the handle denoting a different location. These motifs have been removed, leaving the ends blank. Amongst the middle row of spoons is one which has the distinctive silver cast text, Mother, within a heart shape where the motif would be.
Close Contacts, 2022
Cast iron shoe moulds and rusted postal weights, wax
In the centre of the room at the base of the centre column is a collection of small wax and steel objects. There are two stacks of slightly rusted steel weights, and cast iron shoe moulds filled with off-white wax.
This has been an audio description by Meg Riley for the Nexus Arts Gallery show, Stuck on Pause by Riza Manalo. More information on this and other events and exhibitions can be found on the Nexus Arts website, nexusarts.org.au
Explore the exhibition
Riza Manalo: Waiting out Containment
by Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez
Emptied days roll into foreboding oblivion. Despite a nearly global lull in pandemic aporia for the moment, life rhythms remain amiss particularly for the non-vaccine compliant. And that indeed is how living has stalled for the artist, Riza Manalo these Covid-19 marked years. Stale air hangs inside walls that noose the zest left over from another far less impeded life. Painful nostalgia rims all the nooks and crannies of this showing done under duress.
No one completely owns up to having the pen built for individuals like her, subject to the interminable push to flex, breathe, and step past the sameness of boarded-up days sensorially driven by travelling radii, blasting sirens, projectile-assaulted nostrils, and half-cloaked visages. Bodily policing bristles here in just one of many tales of isolation, this one of an artist unilaterally bound within mental and physical space constricted presumably for her own good. Not so unexpectedly, a certain self-release reflex invariably kicks in. Lines are drawn, and all are told not to cross imagined fences lest some sanitation seal gets breached. Narrowed terrain viscerally registers as de facto sensors of persona non-grata, their opting out of getting marked nominally ‘clean’ sets them apart as aberrant, selfish, even unpatriotic. Enforced inertia and indefinite arrest, perpetuated dis-ease consign the still well and living to indefinite holding patterns that numb and debilitate. The artist is absent because she is kept from being. There is no gaining of entry for unbroken skin and unrelenting spirit.
Manalo’s Stuck on Pause draws from this deeply felt hemmed-in existence, the rending of a sense of self several times disavowed, from an abode she used to be able to leave and return to, from fairly unbridled work sequences that taunted the limits of imagination, from an even more distant home where dearest relations can no longer be visited and lent care. Stuck on Pause is phantom-like on many such fronts. Objects come upon the exhibit site through a stream of transmittals, optimized by the near wiping off of traces that track back to the human that sends them over. Manalo’s bodily effluents and leavings (saliva, tears, hair, scratch markings, and then some) wend their way onsite parasitically, thickening upon the crafted and found even as maker and finder are kept from treading into where beholders take breaths, touch walls, and step upon floors. Symbolically and materially, such exhibitionary gestures defy the foisted inadmissibility via proxy—through evidentiary human processes like the gentle mending of fragments, of reframing the estranged, streaming and stitching of unmade memories—all these staking proofs of life upon territory forbidden to the disobedient, disinvited, and other ordered.
Interestingly, much of the residue Manalo herself emplaces upon Nexus Arts’s spaces stays sensorially minimal except perhaps with saliva seductively congealing with sugar in Promises and its posed tension between doublespeak and linguistic salve. These spectral presences, buoyed by faith within scapes and things essentially out of whack, shoe mold stand-ins for feet since literally grounded, a carpenter’s level barely hinting at being askew, kintsugi patched-up structures (a broken wishbone and worn chair), their wounded exteriors all so bravely and poetically held up for show.
A patina of borderline resignation rests upon the surfaces of these seemingly disparate objects and layered conceptual propositions taunting contact—written, tactile, sputtering intervention unto truncated conversations and encounters. No Words evokes abrupt and erratic correspondence, the upturned and obverse state of frames and shards of communiques in Untitled, the factuality of used stamps made into planes that will never take off in Waiting—all seemingly coalesce in a staging of thwarted desire and action.
Even a benignly blown-up collage of discomfort, an Aussie currency laden stand in for a sleeping mat laid awry alludes to how bodies have been barred from attempting contact, consigning all to transactional, person-less remittance. Remote Viewing’s wax-sealed notes in turn appear as frozen moments up through when mobility became summarily curtailed, speech acts were rent from liveness and instead lent some cobbled sense of the real in bits and bytes, faded and disjointed memory peppered by corrective scruff marks.
Similarly, Wish You Were Here’s kitschy touristy spoons hang against the contours of an Australian map. They transmute into burnished tokens barely retaining a sense track Manalo associates with her 80-year old mother whom she does wish to see but is kept from. Flimsy memoirs, cumulative forgetting. Pushbacks against fixed coordinates, tenacious latching on to the last remaining off-grid pockets. These seemingly hapless acts of flailing at health surveillance and civil regimentation drone into the crowding out of contrarian thought of libertarians and clinicians mindful of patient experience, even when cast off as expendably exceptionalist and dissent-fomenting.
In what is arguably the most pathos tainted of the lot within Stuck on Pause, the video work, Stasis counts upon the humming and buzzing of a dragonfly lured into a spatial continuum that promises no relief. Bereft of already disembodied sound and inducing unwanted containment, this time-based work comes across as the most affectively invasive. Through it, one just might finally find empathy for those left to project upon what is within reach lest the shrinking horizon collapses upon the encased body, wearied soul, and encrusted mind.
Bearing under clearly haptic and embodied strictures, Manalo’s coterie of personal effects and detritus remain characteristically devoid of hysterics here. In keeping with an avowedly muted sensibility evident in her larger body of work, there remains a seething affect underpinning this quest to break with the drudgery of unfeeling cadence. Even as this comes tempered by an overriding inclination to a poetics that perhaps only becomes legible to the willingly engaged and raring to live, the chafing against syringed grails remains potent and fierce.
Meet the artists & curators
Riza Manalo is a visual artist of Filipino-French descent who recently moved to South Australia from Melbourne and now living in the regional area on the west bank of the Murray River. Manalo creates work that spans public performance, sound, video, and installation. In her research and practice, she examines the importance of artistic representation of lived experiences in understanding the production of social and cultural meanings in public spaces.
At present, she works in open collaboration with diverse communities, artists, and researchers to explore how experiential performance and engagement plays in constructing identity and shaping public and mind space. Her practice has become increasingly focused on materiality and spatial sensing in relation to memory, body, and transitional spaces. Manalo is interested in arts-based participatory social research practice that reflects on shifts, transitions, and the condition of living between polarities of culture and geography.
Riza Manalo has been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions since 1994. Her work has been shown in galleries and film screenings internationally, including Smack Mellon, NY; Dumbo Art Centre, NY; P.S. 122, New York; Contemporary Museum of Honolulu; Städtischen Galerie, Germany; New York Film Festival; Rotterdam International Film Festival; Australian Centre for the Moving Image, among others. Her works are held in collections in Australia, Philippines, and U.S.A. She has received a Master of Fine Arts in Art in Public Space and is currently pursuing a PhD in Art focusing on spatial empowerment.