Rhonda Miranda, born 1972, Philippines.
Rhonda Miranda is best known for her multimedia installation consisting of juxtaposed analog photographs, found objects and other detritus that depict personal spaces, unusual viewpoint shots of body parts being manipulated by various kinds of mirrors with the resulting images as a reflective surface loaded with metaphors.
“My art is a continuing exploration of the series of archived photographs that was mechanically reproduced through the photocopy machine. My intent is to present these old files in sepia, black and white or color film to make multiple gradations. My main goal is to conceal, misrepresent or distort the subject by using three different types of mirrors- the vintage looking-glass, rectangular-shaped mirror, the blind spot mirror and the mirror lens of the camera in order to come up with different results like disfigurement of my body parts.”
Miranda uses a series of photographs focusing on the objectified reflection of body parts, distorted presentation vis-à-vis mirror and camera that translate to be an antithesis of fragility and suffering, sexual issues and social commentary in regards with her role in the society in general.
Right after her stint in the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines and a Cum Laude graduate, she became active in the underground art scene in the 90’s under the mentorship of the acclaimed curator Roberto Chabet that also consisted some of her colleagues. It was during this period that she underwent various experimentations with her newfound medium of expression and departing from her earlier style that she was accustomed to- traditional painting. Maybe due to the fact that her being a protégé in high school and consistent winner of well-known art contests like 22nd Shell National Students Art Competition, 1996 Art Association of the Philippines Art Awards, 1998 Swatch On-the-Spot Competition, 1997 Surveillance Generalé de Societe, 5th International Design Competition, Osaka Japan and among others that prompted her to pursue painting as major. And at this particular phase, she fondly recalls her “memorable meetings and tutelage with topnotch professors with the likes of Roberto Feleo and Gerry Tan” has broadened her personal style along with her exposure to radical thinking, critical discourses and subculture while in college.
Her practice brings to mind the works of Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe and Nan Goldin who epitomized the nineties era with their unconventional, blunt and controversial photographs. But her panache is a conspicuous subject of deep-rooted self-empowerment yet doesn’t relegated on too much narcissism but a confrontation of personification whether it’s her privy parts being accessible to the viewers specifically, the opposite sex. Her emulation of personal issues turned up to some of her works, first and foremost, of being a woman, as a free-spirited individual and the ordeals of being a female artist.
Her process of distorting photographic images resulted in a unique sense of intimacy/belonging yet with alienating context. Her act of presenting her own body instead of the sexual innuendos for the male scrutiny counteract as performance art being documented as a form of reversal role-playing. It was her grand protest sort of liberating the female body parts like genitalia that also connotes beauty and pain for the male gaze yet with contradictions and understatement. It is worth noting, that through the camera lens of Miranda that it conjures up a performative language being documented without the audience participation, furthermore, a representation within a representation being devoid of covetousness. The underlying results is what you see isn’t always what you get.
Rhonda Miranda has exhibited her works at the West Gallery, Art Center Megamall, Surrounded by Water Gallery, Brix Gallery, UP Faculty Center, GSIS Museum, Roxas City Museum and Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Rhonda Miranda now lives and works in Quezon City.
She persuaded that I should write her an artist profile, unaware of her failing health that this interview would be my very first and last. I am not so confident about writing but so glad that I fulfilled her request. And she was very pleased and contented with it. You will be surely missed.
Frederick A. Sausa, January 2018
About the photo: This was supposedly her comeback group exhibit in 2018 after years of hiatus in the art scene but sadly also her last.
Rhonda S. Miranda (June 10, 1972- September 11, 2018)