Medium: Site specific installation at JR Domestic Chapel
Date: Lent 2019-03-09
Jason K. Dy’s Propesiya at Katuparan is a diptych of mobiles depicting Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment, in the tradition of Patristic exegesis of types and antitypes. In these two mobiles, Dy continues in his exploration of the expressive potential of urban detritus and of found objects, or better still of “sought for objects,” the nomenclature that Dy prefers.
Using the medium of the mobile, an art form exploited by New York abstract expressionist, Alexander Calder, Dy meditates on the delicate balance of human history, where seeming random events are brought to equilibrium by the unseen force of gravity. In this diptych, gravity is the avatar of the influence of the transcendental that brings harmony to human’s disparate and often contradictory actions, that lead not to peace but to war.
Read from right to left, like Hebrew, and facing the crucified image, sculpted in the Classical manner by Anastacio Caedo, the two mobiles suggest the two tablets of the Torah or the two covenants—the Mosaic covenant with Israel and the Christian with the Gentile, i.e. all of humanity.
Suspended from a pair of statile arms of a termite-eaten corpus, which Dy retrieved from a damaged crucifix at the wayside shrine at the crossroads of Masterson drive and the Jesuit residence, are the two mobiles. The left mobile’s armature, Propesiya, is made from the vine of the saga-saga or sagamin (Hlg. bahaí; Eng. jequirity, rosary, coral or precatory pea, Abrus precatorius), from which sprout mature seed pods, showing red and black seeds. Pendants from the vine are: a golden pouch with seeds, a pig’s head, a soldier with a rifle, an orange tree made from a recycled PET bottle and branches of leaves.
The meandering form of the saga-saga vine recalls the tortured history of the Chosen people: their 40-year wandering in the desert, the invasions of the promised lands by Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians, and the dual exile under Assyria and Babylon, the years under the Seleucids and the Roman occupation ending in the razing of Jerusalem and its temple by Gen. Titus in 70 AD. The red and black seeds of the legume saga-saga, recalls bloodshot eyes, made so by tears. The gold pouch with seeds recalls the promise of God that will fructify in due season. It also alludes to the Apocryphal tale known as the Life of Adam and Eve, an in its Greek version as the Apocalypse of Moses. In different versions of the tale, Adam tells Seth to go to Paradise and beg for divine mercy. Seth gets the oil of mercy from the Tree of Life or the seed from the Tree of Life. This oil is made available to humanity at the crucifixion. Or the seed was the source of the saving cross. The soldier represents the history of war and conflict, times of testing, for God’s people. The pig’s head represents sacrifice, and alludes to the tale in the Book of Maccabees, where the Jews are forced by their foreign overlords to violate the Torah by eating pork. The branches allude to the Feast of Succoth of Feast of Booths, in which Jews commemorated the wandering in the desert, when they lived in tents. Finally, the orange tree is the Burning Bush.
The pendant objects may also be read Christologically, with the soldiers alluding to the Passion, the branches to the Hosannas, sung by children.
The left mobile, Katuparan, has an armature from branches of the bagras or rainbow tree (Eucalyptus deglupta), endemic to the Philippines and the only species of eucalyptus growing in the northern hemisphere. The rainbow tree displays the colors of the rainbow, alluding to the promise of Yahweh to Noah not to destroy humanity. In Jesus, this promise is not phrased negatively but positively because Jesus saves humanity. Symbols of the Paschal mystery hung from the eucalyptus branch. The fish hook alludes to the Eucharist. The pendant origami birds to the women of Jerusalem who met Jesus at the Via Crucis. The stick with the plastic reeds to the reed Jesus held while being mocked and the bones and fragments of a statue to the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The empty frame hanging at the bottom of the mobile represents the empty tomb. But it is also an invitation to enter the mystery of Lent, through the doorway of the Passion.
- essay by Rene B. Javellana, SJ