Promises, 2017
50% Saliva and 50% Sugar
Dimensions variable


It’s just words, 2017
Stone Fountain, 50% Saliva and 50% Sea Water
Dimensions variable


12 Seconds, 2017
Video, Gouache and Saliva
Dimensions variable


Responding to the theme of the Amylase enzyme, present in human saliva. The works investigate the amalgamating qualities of amylase, incorporating dialectics of memory and empathy.

The artist collected her saliva for a period of two months, this durational performative act produced 1.5 litres of body fluid which she used for this series of work. By manipulating biological genetic material and meaning, Manalo creates work to trigger personal resonance as she seeks to answer the question ” How deep can words bruise?”

Her work is inspired by the writing of Judith Butler
EXCITABLE SPEECH – ‘On linguistic vulnerability.’
(Routledge, New York & London 1997)

When we claim to have been injured by language, what kind of claim do we make? We ascribe an agency to language, a power to injure, and position ourselves as the objects of its injurious trajectory. We claim that language acts, and acts against us, and the claim we make is a further instance of language, one which seeks to arrest the force of the prior instance. Thus, we exercise the force of language even as we seek to counter its force, caught up in a bind that no act of censorship can undo. Could language injure us, if we were not, in some sense, linguistic beings? Beings which require language in order to be? Is our vulnerability to language a consequence of our being constituted within its terms? If we are formed in language, then that formative power precedes and conditions any decision we might make about it, insulting us from the start, as it were by its prior power.

All images courtesy of the artist.

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© Riza Manalo 2018