Arts & CulturePress Release

Leeroy New’s ‘Mebuyan’s Colony’ highlights function beyond the fantastical

MEBUYANS COLONY IN CCP FUNCTION BEYOND THE FANTASTICAL INS 2 1

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Whether physical, social, or personal, art always serves a purpose and goes beyond aesthetics and well into the needs of the artist and the community. Such is the case for multidisciplinary artist Leeroy New’s Mebuyan’s Colony, the featured Earth Day art installation of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The unveiling will take place on April 25 at 6:00 pm. at the CCP Front Lawn.  

Raising environmental awareness and championing green initiatives, Mebuyan’s Colony is a large-scale immersive environment that combines New’s fascination with science fiction and Philippine mythology, reflected in the giant spheres on bamboo stilts. 

Based on Bagobo mythology, Mebuyan is the goddess residing in the underworld whose body is engulfed with seemingly infinite breasts. Pods akin to wombs allude to Mebuyan’s dual role as the goddess of death and fertility, sustaining the spirits of children who have passed and transforming and nourishing them into adults capable of continuing the journey through the afterlife. 

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Leeroy’s use of natural materials, found objects, and assorted discards transformed into representations of a specific speculative future intersects Filipino contemporary life, pre-colonial mythology, and environmentalism.  

“Our references to local stories and pre-colonial mythology can determine our approach to creative production. I referenced Mebuyan and other pre-colonial stories because most of us only get to hear the same stories, paulit-ulit,” he explained. “We don’t hear about Mebuyan, the goddess of death and fertility, who nurtures the spirits of dead babies. So there are a lot of principles and elements that we miss out on.”  

MEBUYANS COLONY IN CCP FUNCTION BEYOND THE FANTASTICAL INS 3 1

For the fifth iteration of the Mebuyan series, Leeroy incorporated this year’s Earth Day celebration theme, “Planet vs. Plastics,” as he utilized additional materials to protect plants against the hotter weather.   

“I’m really drawn to pieces that explore practicality and functionality. When we built Mebuyan’s Colony, I wondered how we could build something more. How can we move away from practical structures, like cube forms, versus more creative and fantastical forms, like these clusters of spheres?” shared Leeroy.  

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