Coping with a Couple's Copious Conjugal Cupboard of Curios, Cops, Cuffs and Corpse by Toym Imao

Materials Used: Brass, galvanized iron, fiberglass

Dimensions: Approximately 14 feet high, 12 feet wide and 12 feet deep.

 

Background

This sculptural installation is the second of the three-part “Super Robot-Suffer Reboot Series,” visual artist Toym Imao’s artistic interpretation of a childhood memory when his beloved anime robot TV shows (Voltes V, Mazinger Z, Daimos, etc.) were banned from airing under the Marcos Regime. This event, while inconsequential to many, was the start of Imao’s awakening to the realities of Martial Law.

“Last, Lost, Lust for Four Episodes,” the first of the series was unveiled last September 20, 2014 at the AS Steps, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, in time for the commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. The sculpture used the popular anime Voltes V as a take-off point to a discourse on martial rule and its impact on Philippine society.

“Coping with a Couple's Copious Conjugal Cupboard of Curios, Cops, Cuffs and Corpses” is inspired by the story of Mazinger Z, another popular super manga robot banned during the 1970s. Mazinger Z is a mecha robot piloted by Kouji Kabuto to battle the Mechanical Beasts controlled by evil scientist Dr. Hell. Dr. Hell was corrupted by his greed for power and became mad with his desire to become the new ruler of the world. Like Voltes V, the Mazinger Z plot explores the archetypical battle between good and evil.

 

The Sculpture

The Voltes V installation was inspired by The Fall of Lucifer, usually depicted in paintings and sculptures with the Archangel Gabriel wielding his sword against a defeated Lucifer beneath his feet. In particular, Imao took his visual cues from National Artist’s Fernando Amorsolo’s Marcang Demonio painting.

This Mazinger Z installation is inspired by another religious icon – Michaelangelo’s Pieta. This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. In Imao’s depiction, Mary is Inang Laya or Inang Bayan and Jesus is the battered Mazinger Z. In an act of ultimate sacrifice for good, Mazinger Z was destroyed in the TV series.

The sculpture is an ode to the Marcos’ conjugal dictatorship, megalomania, and hero worship.

Details

The Mazinger Z/Inang Bayan Pieta is eventually avenged by the Japanese manga's upgraded version of the original robot in the form of Great Mazinga which is portrayed by the artist as an archangel wearing armor inspired by the robot. Standing at the crest of the temple, he wields two swords and carries with him the severed heads of the two-headed Mechanical Beast Doublas M2.

The three caryatids at the bottom are actually the three female robot allies of Mazinger Z, namely, Aprodite A, Minerva X, and Venus A. Each caryatid carries a severed arm, leg and wings of Mazinger Z. The three female robots are visual metaphors of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and represent mothers, daughters and wives whose loved ones were victims of Martial Law.

Dr. Hell’s evil henchman is Baron Ashura. The Baron is actually a man and a woman who Dr. Hell discovered in an ancient tomb. Dr. Hell sewed the two male and female halves together and then brought the composite being to life. The combined face of former President Ferdinand Marcos and his First Lady Imelda Marcos is the representation of the conjugal dictatorship. Exactly opposite the Pieta is an image of the grim reaper inspired by one of Mazinger Z’s beast enemies, "Garada K7." He holds a tablet with the inscribed date in Roman numerals, September 21, 1972, the date of the declaration of Martial Law.

The temple is surrounded by twenty-one lampposts representing 21 years of the Marcos regime. They are a combination of pickaxes, the grim reaper’s sickle and shovels. These characterize the massive building spree that the past regime boasts of but which came at high costs. Paintbrushes and rollers are visual metaphors of white washing and superficial beautification done to cover actual decay and poverty in the city.

The Marcos-Imelda Ventriloquist Puppet Head is a visual metaphor for propaganda, deception and disengagement from reality. A “show” orchestrated by a stage draped in American colors and iconography. The steps in front allude to the Metro Manila Film Center at the CCP Complex where allegedly several workers were buried during an accident in its construction – and how the issue, like other tragedies during the Marcos regime was candy-coated.

The shadow cut-out figures represent those in mourning for the “disappeared;” the displaced orphans, widows, and those who have lost friends and relatives.

The Four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are usually represented in iconography as winged icons of a lion, eagle, angel and bull – which also represent Spain, United States, Japan and China, past colonizers, aggressors of the country’s sovereignty.

 

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