Singapore Biennale 2008 (11 September - 16 November 2008)
Artistic director: Fumio Nanjo; curators: Joselina Cruz and Matthew Ngui.
By Joselina Cruz (Curator)
On the facade of Raffles Shopping Centre in Singapore, looms the large-scale photographic work of Isaac Montoya. The image is a rainbow-coloured portrait of a young woman, hair seemingly in dread locks, her mouth open. The photograph pulstates with a frenetic energy.
Most of Montoya's artworks are amnipulated photographs that allow for several layers of meaning. On one hand, he creates glossy, attractive images often identified with consumerist iconography. These images are reminiscent of those found in magazines, advertising billboards and TV ads. All are slick - visual gratification, immediate; the bombardment of the products' glories, relentless. Montoya's photographs however lend several, alternate readings. By providing screens or filters that reveal other images, he provides us with another reality. A reality we would we would rather not see, or be be reminded of. He ensures that the second (and third) portraits that are revealed draw us into an uncomfortable place - one we would rather have remain at arms length.
Montoya has been called a chameleon, a reference to his work and his open person. He has created a female version of himself as Isa Montoya (Montoya himself dressed as a woman), whose return to Spain is chronicled in a parody of 'Hola' (re-titled by Montoya 'Ole') a Spanish magazine dedicated to the idiosyncracies of the rich and famous. His other photographs too are 'doubled', all are simulacra of realities that border on mockery and social commentary.
For the Singapore Biennale, Montoya's work Fantasmas (Phantoms) (2008) contains several images that nudge us to think about the state of contemporary word events. He layers three images, two of which areseen through red and blue filters. Montoya has taken the imagistic spectres from our subconscious - the portraits are glimpses of places around the world where violence continues unabaited, where peace is still rooted in the hope of its coming. The work's location in a busy consumer area prompts people to face up to this situation. There is not one but several realities, a variety of angles to everything and every event.
Text courtesy of Joselina Cruz and Singapore Biennale 2008