Sculpture 14: UPLift
Many were quick to compare the levitating female nude sculpture in UP Diliman as the “female Oblation”. This new addition to the myriad of sculptures and installations that dot the campus was even embroiled in a plagiarism controversy the moment it was unveiled in 2017.
But after the heat had abated and the debate had ceased, the lull that ensued allowed this artistic expression to be perused and appreciated.
Ferdinand Cacnio unveiled his work UPLift in 2017, but the history of its conception dated back to 2008 with a similar yet smaller work UP to You. Almost a decade after, the larger UPLift came to fruition as a project of his college batch mates. He merchandised 50 replicas of the smaller work to raise 60,000 pesos.
UPLift is a figure of a supine, naked female, with outstretched arms on her side, levitating through the support of her long hair. She is rising from a pond into the sky. Her eyes are closed and her countenance seems in a meditation.
This pose has a semblance of the iconic Oblation by Guillermo Tolentino, prompting others to call it the female version. But the sculptor had another concept in mind, that it was a representation of honor and excellence – the motto that the university espouses. Tolentino’s work was about offering the self, thus oblation.
Cacnio said in an interview that the outstretched arms meant opening the arms to knowledge to rise, thus the act of levitating. In his words: “… hindi ka aangat kung hindi naka-spread ang arms mo sa mga itinuturo sa ‘yo.” On the other hand, Tolentino interpreted his work as someone murmuring a prayer, with “outstretched arms, and open hands, with tilted head, closed eyes, and parted lips.”
The highest point in UPLift is her breast, with her torso and legs slightly sloping and her forehead tilted downward. This reminds me of the usual description of a series of mountains for a sleeping maiden. With this pose, the levitation looks natural and aesthetic. The long, unkempt hair is integral to support the body.
The way that Cacnio considered the balancing of the figure and the subtlety of its pose and arrangement show how he blended engineering and art well, as he is both an engineer and an artist.
Below are some of the images I took of UPLift.
With a little tiptoe, you can see better her countenance.
One thing more, I hope they drain and change the pond (more) often. One time I saw a couple of frogs cuddling in the hair strands of the sculpture. And the pond water looked “not invitingly” green.
Zafra, Tricia. “The ‘Female Oblation’: After #UPlift, Ferdie Cacnio Will Continue to Create.” SubSelfie, 26 June 2017. https://subselfie.com/2017/06/26/after-uplift-ferdie-cacnio-will-continue-to-create/
“Family members defend artist of ‘UPlift’ sculpture in UP Diliman.” Interaksyon, 27 June 2017. http://www.interaksyon.com/family-members-defend-artist-of-uplift-sculpture-in-up-diliman/
“‘Female Oblation’ sculptor fends off plagiarism accusations.” ABS-CBN News, 25 June 2017. http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/25/17/female-oblation-sculptor-fends-off-plagiarism-accusations