Visual artist Koki Lxx debuted their new works at Vinyl on Vinyl on May 4. I ought to nail down the sky, it keeps getting away from me utilizes a mix of light sources and light diffusers to create colorful mixes of shadows and reflections against the gallery walls. 

The intent of the exhibit can be vague at first glance. There’s no write-up alongside the exhibit, but Lxx posted a list of bullet points that suggests its broader ideas. 

Koki Lxx's bullet points on the exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.
Koki Lxx’s bullet points on the exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.

Those bullet points focus on the idea of the Philippines itself: a group of islands interconnected together by the world around them. It then hints on broader themes regarding imperialism and colonization, and how even the experiences of the individual encloses itself into the collective. 

“1980: Gwangju uprising, but it can be EDSA, Vietnam, Cambodia. we lived through shared experiences. 55, 75, 80, 86, 24,” Lxx wrote. “we see the sky, same sky, we see our shared lives, but it’s easy to forget. forget that we lived.”

The Fragility of Beauty

Koki Lxx’s exhibit focuses on light and color, but also on the fragility of the images we create from there. A lot of the exhibit contains lights covered by partially-transparent filters that affect the distribution of the light. In this case, the lights scatter into different fragments into the white walls of the exhibit. 

The intense beauty of the exhibits really come from these shadows and reflections being projected. The final effect is a lot more ethereal than the typical light reflection: these turn into tiny strings and claw-like objects seemingly climbing up the wall in distinct root-like systems. In some angles, they look like the inside of volcanoes, or at least an X-rayed version of mountainous systems. 

Some of the works in the exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the works in the exhibit. Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the light filters with a drawing of a mountain behind them. Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the light filters with a drawing of a mountain behind them. Photo by Elle Yap.
One of the lighting installations. Photo by Elle Yap.
One of the lighting installations. Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the filters made by Koki Lxx exhibited separate from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the filters made by Koki Lxx exhibited separate from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.
A light installation with a blue hue. Photo by Elle Yap.
A light installation with a blue hue. Photo by Elle Yap.

Lxx also includes the cellophane-like filters on their own. Some were put inside three frames, while others were displayed upright. Four are displayed alongside a sketch of a volcano under the sun, and it exemplifies how these nature-made colossuses can just glow in the right conditions, blending together with the environment to create something collectively beautiful. 

Vistas of Peace

In the other corner of the room, are three unique light covers, each housed in its own box. Instructions indicated to gently move the lights from side to side, creating the illusion of a shifting mountain vista projected onto the white walls.

In the middle of the three lights is this sketch of people seemingly pushed together, their heads down as the lights’ orientations and reflections change in front of them. The meaning of these moving reflections with this sketch together is vague but compelling. 

One of the lighting installations. Photo by Elle Yap.
One of the lighting installations. Photo by Elle Yap.
The light reflections combined with the artist's sketch in the middle. Photo by Elle Yap.
The light reflections combined with the artist’s sketch in the middle. Photo by Elle Yap.
Reflections from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.
Reflections from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.
Koki Lxx's sketch of people with their heads low. Photo by Elle Yap.
Koki Lxx’s sketch of people with their heads low. Photo by Elle Yap.
Reflections from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.
Reflections from the light. Photo by Elle Yap.

These two elements together create juxtaposing ideas of collective suffering within the beauty of the world around us. How our beautiful world, for all its grandness, still holds suffering for many people across the world. There’s nothing clear or explicit about it, but it compels audiences to make their own conclusions about the meaning of these images together. 

I ought to nail down the sky, it keeps getting away from me feels experimental and elemental at the same time. Koki Lxx creates sketches of beauty from the shadows of light’s reflection, and forces us to contemplate what all this beauty means in our environment today. 

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