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Mdm. B. Niyaan / Russ Ligtas

Performance art is like a painting; You look at it and that's it- you don't need to rationalize. That is the very nature of art. Otherwise you are going to have a bad time.

I am writing this as I am slowly eating a bowl of Cerelac for dinner. Tonight was moving. This is my second show with Russ, and it does not surprise me that I am still surprised- Brilliant and interesting. On my way home inside the taxi, my mind was brewing so many thoughts; Thoughts that lead to new thoughts and questions, and questions that lead to more thoughts and even more questions. And with that it's safe to say that Russ has made a piece that has undeniably made a mark in my train of thought.

Performance art might be a new concept to many and to the unoriented; In general sense it involves an artist that performs in front of an audience. For some, Interior Semiotics might be the first that comes into mind. (If it doesn't ring any bells, look it up in the net) But beyond the artist performing, there can also be a crossover from 3D to 2D. Video footages and live cameras, not to mention photo rolls are utilized to help clear out the blur of which the piece of art is at first introduced.

Russ is an artist who expresses his plight through performance art. He has also joined the aspect of Butoh, a form of japanese dance born from the 60's that originates from two explorative ideas; Questioning the concept of beauty and what is beautiful and not, and on the other hand, stepping closer to the light to find out what is beauty and being able to achieve the fullness of it.

Entitled Mdm. B. Niyaan, or in the dialect, The Abandoned, is named after one of the characters the artist himself created, and is the center of the piece. She is the only girl of all his created characters. Mdm B. Niyaan, and her somber, white face, and scruffy hair, embodies all the grieving abandoned. The title gives it away; she is left behind. She is broken, dirty, a spell of distortion of a self and an escape from a reality where something has escaped; and might not come back. This character was developed from a Butoh and into an incorporated video art, and had come with an instructional step-by-step for those who want to perform the Ex(o)rcise.

Just like my first show I watched it alone. A lot of people who were around were Russ's friends and colleagues, and I didn't know anyone so I enjoyed the anonimity. I sat just behind Russ to get a clear view of the projection on the wall. However the stage is not restricted to the platform where Russ stands, or the chair that he sits on. We are all part of the stage. We are actors, we are players- every sound, move or thought we make joins into the point and thought the piece of art makes.

Art as stimuli responds to emotion, not rationalization. Seeing Mdm. B. Niyaan roll around in pain and anguish, you also feel her pain as she slowly reveals her sad, broken story. She tells it in a beautifully implied way, so subtle you don't feel it at first. But when she tosses around and dances and pours her heart out, you become a part of the piece.

After the performance the artist was open to questions and one of those questions was something too close to home. He revealed that Mdm. B. Niyaan was inspired by an event in the artist's life; that she was somebody who was wanted by someone to be something, which is not good. Tomorrow will be last of his last shows here in Cebu until quite a while. For some reason he is off to a said adventure, and will not be able to return soon.

I went home duly fulfilled watching such beautiful piece of art that awakes both mind and heart and soul; that Art is not dead but is progressing; it is not enslaved by the system nor it is at war; it is a separate, solid, strong, old yet growing entity which has always grown with the human spirit since the beginning of time. Like a child wakes in the morning and to find every day a blank slate he can fill- that is art. Ever-changing, growing yet constant.

Performance art is like a painting; You look at it and that's it- you don't need to rationalize. That is the very nature of art. Otherwise you are going to have a bad time. But I suppose I didn't.

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