Leeroy New’s installation, “Mebuyan’s Colony,” was unveiled last Feb. 19 at the Ateneo Art Gallery. The 7-meter-high and 25-meter-wide installation is the latest addition to his otherworldly and large-scale pieces, this time inspired by the Bagobo goddess of death and fertility. A dozen spheres on bamboo stilts are interconnected so that visitors can walk through it at the Areté Amphitheater. Mebuyan is described as having breasts all over her body, hence the globular design.[READ: Pio Abad’s latest exhibit reveals the ugliness behind the ‘beauty’ of martial law]
New’s interconnected spheres are more than an attraction. The artist worked with agriculturist Jose Felix with support from professional seedling nursery Farm Ready, seedling distributor Ramgo Seeds, and agricultural brand Oh Crop! He describes it as a confluence of sci-fi, dystopian and futuristic design, and mythology, integrated with an agricultural system as well as an upcycling effort. The largest bamboo sphere is covered with discarded PET bottles reconfigured as translucent cladding to mimic a greenhouse.
“We will be growing food inside, in the interiors of the pods as well as the exteriors of the pods,” New said at the start of the project. “In theory, by the end, there will be a second layer of organic material that envelopes the structure.” The goal, he said, is that in the end, the space becomes a collaborative project for artists, farmers, and the community, akin to the proliferation of community-based food security initiatives like pantries.
Three months after the piece was mounted, the Ateneo Art Gallery has opened up “Mebuyan’s Colony” to guests so they can harvest the vegetables that have grown out of the project. Registered visitors can harvest produce inside New’s masterpiece on May 18, from 4 p.m. onwards. And just in time for International Museum Day, there will also be kiosks where participants can buy seedlings and tools from Ateneo’s agricultural partners.
All guests are required to register through an online form until May 18 at 12 p.m.
“Leeroy New: Mebuyan’s Colony” is on view until March 2023 at the Wong Chu King Foundation Cove, Ateneo College Batch 1980 Cove, and the Eli and Elizabeth Hubahib Cove located at the Areté Amphitheater.