The hand, the secretary, a landscape



A ray of light yawns, stretches, and embraces the mouth of a plastic pot. The window nearby recognizes it as a fading rainbow, and greets the child inside: look, it is morning. The morning light teaches the child that fingers can be maps. In Lesley-Anne Cao’s The hand, the secretary, a landscape, an exploration of tactility is begun. With a practice that involves itself with objects (their textures, their evocations, their weights) and looking (its textures, its evocations, its weights), Cao encourages an investigation of how we come to make sense of what we sense. A mirror, at a distance, coyly tells us what is inside: a blanket laid down inside a crate, its only jangle its striking color. We build upon the image of an ear with an image of an ear. The branch on the wall is both here and elsewhere. Through production and reproduction, through both objects and objection, Cao practices sight with us. We are guided through the exhibition by semblances, slight gestures that point us somewhere. An expanse tucked away in Cao’s mind, and perhaps ours, too. Or none at all. There is a whisper of the word reach, meant as the achievement of touch, even with the eye. In the end, we negotiate between our impulses. Do we need to locate these objects in order to know something about where and what they are? Are we to remember by site or by sight? Cao is pointing, but where. Where you are now is a matter of pointing and not finding. Alas, the rainbow is no longer the languishing light. The window saw through it, and it bent.


I. Gap

What are our preoccupations when it is posited to us: two trains depart, coming from different cities, and are heading toward each other at different speeds. When and where do they meet? In the end, we preoccupy ourselves with: how do we solve for distance? For time? We no longer question the relation between the two cities, the two trains, their two speeds. In answering, we rush towards the trains’ meeting point, and in the process, rush the trains towards each other.


II. Lesson

Rene Magritte writes in 1936, “I awoke in a room in which a cage and the bird sleeping in it had been placed. A magnificent error caused me to see an egg in the cage instead of the bird.” This upset of reality became a conscious spark for the continuation of the “object-lesson”: images and pictures and objects no longer served as the answers to a spectator’s questioning eyes. We make errors in sight and in finding these images. Instead, in a growing hush of whispers and pauses, new and newer questions crowd and occupy the gallery.


III. Expanse

The occupation of terrain by questions continues to this day, and we encounter this pre-occupation as we walk across this space. Cao lays down for us several objects and pictures and gestures for our hand. However, we are not led to where these objects are. Cao leaves such to the inevitable affinities we will find between them. The hive peeks from where it is and bares itself on a wall, and perhaps the ear waits for a buzzing. The blanket will sound when disturbed, ringing in a color not unlike the hive. (Michelle Esquivias)




4th floor Small Gallery (Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo) and Atrium (Manila side)
Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila
7 June - 12 August 2018

Artist talk/in conversation with Gary-Ross Pastrana
14 July Saturday, 3pm, Small Gallery

Press 1, 2, 3







photos by Miguel Lorenzo Uy  






Zeus Bascon  




Mark