GC: 123

GC: 123 (Garanimation Chapter 1, 2, 3) is an ode to Garapata, a character Dex Fernandez created based on the ticks that infested a dog they had when he was a kid. He remembers spending hours with his siblings trying to catch the ticks that spread all over their house – crawling at the tables, making their way up the curtains, and even reaching their television set. They would collect the ticks they caught and drown them in gasoline but no matter how often they did this, they couldn’t get rid of it. They were left with no choice but to give away the dog. This experience left a big impression on Fernandez that he carried with him when he entered the world of graffiti and street art in 2006.

Fernandez’s participatory approach to his art gives the audience the power to infest and become hosts as they are engaged directly in the creative process of his several shows. GC: 123 is a video narrative split into three chapters showing his past collaborations.

Chapter 1 is a walk through the streets of Tokyo when Fernandez was there for a residency in 2016. The chaotic city, all neon and bright, has had a big impact on him even when it was still a myth to him as a kid in awe of Japanese animation. During his first Japan residency, he captured this playful innocence by documenting Garapata walking around the streets of Tokyo. Its casual stroll resembles a kid wide-eyed in wonder, taking in everything he sees in his alien surroundings.

Chapter 2 is about exploration and participation. The video called Hobo in Wonderland was shown at the 2017 Philippine Art Fair. Fernandez still considers this as a continuation of the seamless walking in Chapter 1 but here we see Garapata put against a myriad of illustrations created by friends, strangers, onlookers, and fellow artists who attended the art fair. Participants were given the freedom to draw whatever they wanted that was then projected onto the screen. Over thousand drawings were stitched together to make the three-minute video. The result was a spasmodic treat that mirrors Fernandez as a result of his interaction with others – how it allowed him to soar, dive, change color, turn spiky, shrink, grow tall, small, become himself or no one at all.

Chapter 3 is a bookend to Garapata’s evolution. In his show Mating Season held in Pinto Art Museum, the audience witnessed the unfolding of more mature content. We see Garapata come across someone his opposite. They mate and produced spawns. As this chapter in his artistic life was unfolding, Fernandez’s personal life was also making a pivotal turn. He began experiencing more, gaining more insights, and allowing himself to welcome change instead of resisting it. Garapata became daring, carefree, and took pleasure in tasting the unknown.

We map the growth of the artist in the replays, pauses, and repeats of the images. The looping of images, in a way, resembles the processes, internal and external, that transformed Fernandez and his art. The number of participants grow dramatically the further he is into the project, making the process of creating the video more tedious as he has to sort through all of the images to see which photos are best placed together. The manual component of inclusion and selection is central to the development of both the artist and his practice. The entire process is a loop in itself. Given Dex Fernandez’s spontaneous character and his mind being a tireless gear of activity, we can already sense him churning out new ideas for the next chapter.

- Weng Cahiles


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