After waking up from a nightmare, artist and model Maxine Syjuco grabs, not a glass of water, but a pen and paper to bring those visions to life.
“A lot of my art—whether visual art or poetry—is based on the inner workings of the subconscious mind, and I feel almost ‘possessed’ to put pen to paper when I receive unsettling ‘visions’ in my dreams,” she told Manila Standard Life.
As an artist, Syjuco has always been driven by her desire to express her feelings and emotions, to discover “just how deep the human being can go.” She never subscribes to the idea of creating something that pleases anyone, putting premium instead on “deepening my knowledge of beauty and the depth found in the human condition, no matter how dark or ‘ugly’ it may be.”
Her video poetry “Maman,” which has been chosen as one of the finalists in the 9th International Video Poetry Festival to be held this March in Athens, Greece, is one of the examples of her art that dives deep into her soul.
The festival aims “to create an open public space for the creative expression of all tendencies and streams of contemporary visual poetry.” Submitted entries include poetry films, film-poems, digital-poetry, poetry video, Cin(E)-Poetry, spoken word films, and all films and videos driven visually by text or voice.
Written and directed by Syjuco, the only Philippine representative, “Maman” features the first single from the latest album of art-rock band Jack of None, which she shares with her brothers A.G. and Julian.
The video is as straightforward as any video poetry comes, featuring the words with one of her artworks as backdrop and an ominous music playing in the background. “I believe it is the sheer simplicity of my video that allows the poetry and music to stand out,” the artist posited.
The poem, undoubtedly born from a nightmare, tells the story of a mother and a daughter “struggling to find the truth amidst a myriad of uncertainties.”
“The daughter continuously enquires the whereabouts of a mysterious dead ‘body,’ and the mother repeatedly avoids the questions until the very end when she finally reveals that the daughter, herself, is the dead body,” shared Syjuco.
“Symbolically,” she added, “the poem is a dark narrative about loss, pain, heartache, and the unbearable persistence of grief.” The darkness of the poem is further fueled by the bleak conditions brought about by the pandemic in 2020 when it was written.
It is the first track from the Syjuco siblings’ latest album, “The Purpose of the Moon,” dedicated to their father, Cesare A.X. Syjuco. In addition, the album was inspired by the seven stages of grief, thereby consisting of seven tracks that explore each stage in an attempt to seek the light in the darkness, “particularly, the hidden light in the inevitability of death, loss, human suffering, and grief.”
Syjuco said the message being conveyed in “Maman” is that there is always light even in the darkness.
Jack of None is looking forward to bringing another recognition for the country, following their 2016 and 2018 wins in the Independent Music Awards in New York City.
“Given that what we create is heavily experimental and not exactly commercial, we feel so humbled to be recognized for our art in countries outside of the Philippines,” enthused Syjuco.
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