Locus Amoenus, 2016
Paper (replica maps) and felt
Collection of the Artist
Singapore Biennale 2016 commission
Latin for a “pleasant place”, the phrase Locus Amoenus also evokes the notion of an escape into an ideal landscape. In this instance, the pastoral paradise has been sited within a house of glass – the greenhouse – an engineered Eden for flora uprooted from its native soil. Indeed, Villamael’s ‘greenhouse’ houses unusual foliage: intricate cut-outs created from archaic and contemporary Philippine maps. Coalescing notions of nature and nurture, culture and the cultivated, the work probes the imaging of the Philippines’ fraught history as the country that endured the longest colonial rule in Southeast Asia. Collapsing multiple realities, the installation is cut from maps that have two sides – a semiotic layering that conjoins the historical with the present-day. Creeping down from the ceiling, the Monstera deliciosa looks to colonise its climate-controlled space in the museum. It is situated in the Singapore Art Museum in the only space where a section of the original colonial building façade from 1852 is still visible.