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Threading Through Time

Winna Go

May 6-27, 2023


Threading Through Time

In her first solo exhibition, Threading Through Time, Winna Go contemplates how the locus of identity is shaped by the variables of the past and the present—at times harmonious and conflicting—especially at this juncture of history in which the world is idealized as a global community. The artist looks back at her Chinese ancestry and its powerful pull on her imagination and private life, expressed through an astounding suite of large-scale works featuring traditional Chinese robes as well as an installation of soft sculptures and archival materials.

In her paintings, Go carefully renders the iconography of some of the most enduring symbols of Middle Earth: from the exquisite chrysanthemums to the mythical dragon to the chimerical creature, Qilin. The attention to detail is exact, even obsessive: a desire for figurative fidelity, with no distortion to how these symbols appear and what they represent. However, at the bottom of the robes, starting at the hem, the cloth starts to unravel and deteriorate. What initially seem to be museum-worthy robes are presented to be in a state of slow ruin, no longer the untarnished silk of their former lives.

For Go, such is the state of affairs in contemporary times, in which heterogeneity appears to be the desired outcome.. Not one culture is autonomous and monolithic; influences flow in and out of the great channels of commerce and the social media; we are, all of us, are signifiers of multiple and varied ideological strands. Even the symbolism of the images Go has depicted on her robes has mutated through centuries. The mighty dragon, for instance, revered for its awesome and powerful import is now casually seen as an auspicious symbol, a bringer of good luck. Fixity is fallacy.

This feeling of deterioration is extended and made tactile by the soft sculpture that occupies a corner of the gallery: a warren of meticulously cut pieces of paper. To enter this shifting environment–doubled by mirrors and shadows–is to inhabit a space of introspection in which the familiar forms and shapes of self may be re-discovered. In conjunction with this work is Go’s collection of archival materials, gathered when she was in Taiwan finishing her Master’s degree at the height of the Covid pandemic. It is her own way of examining the ties that bind her to her heritage, the signifiers that constitute her inheritance as well as her destiny.

Threading Through Time, the solo showcase of Winna Go, is the artist’s tender attempt to reclaim the precious bits and pieces of self that, in the absence of conscious effort to preserve, may erode and become obsolete. What the artist threads through time are the delicate, luminous strands that connect her all the way to her ancestors who braved the waters and called these islands home. Stitched into their resolve were their many stories and symbols of an enduring civilization, which these works at once express and extol: emblems of identity that can be worn with pride and dignity, like the robe of an emperor.

Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

Winna Go

Winna Go is an award-winning artist who embraces the richness of her hybrid culture, and identity in the Chinese-Filipino context. She takes inspiration from the archived colonial history and contemporary issues of the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and the richness of the Sinophone world. In 2018, she became a regional winner of the Philippine Art Awards and placed as a finalist in multiple competitions, including the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Competition, the Shell National Student Art Competition, and the LRT Art Competition. Her works have since been featured in exhibits across Taiwan and the Philippines.

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