The tense political atmosphere of the new year is confronted head on in Christopher Jagmin’s exhibition “I’m OK,” displaying from now until February 12, 2017 at the phICA shipping containers. Through his work, Jagmin shows that that affirmations give a physical presence of comfort and through the swirling chaos of the world around, self preservation is vital. Emotions sometimes need to be tricked into submission, and the use of mantras show a roadmap of his stream of consciousness. “I’m OK,” also reveals the process of achieving inner peace within stressful moments, and the sometimes wavering moments within that creep in.
These practices are not new for Jagmin, the use of mantras have been in his life since childhood. His catholic upbringing had instilled the repetition through the Rosary, as a peaceful activity and he latched onto it to protect himself. He writes, “Growing up gay and Catholic, I followed rules given to me by the church, and followed the rules that I gave myself to stay hidden and safe. Before falling asleep, I repeated mantras to remind myself on how to act, and to hope for a better morning.” Using a manual label maker, each letter is painstakingly stamped out, and each piece can show snapshots of his anxiety and triumphs through his memories. Some of are painful; “I am not a nancy,” and “I am not a pervert,” while some are reflections (or hope) of contentment like, “My life is amazing.”
In “If I said,” and “NOT THESE,” Jagmin links his own strong emotions evoked by others, especially throughout the Presidential election period. On a screen flashes phrases that most voters long to hear, things that are honest and raw. “I AM SORRY,” “I WAS WRONG,” and “I WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.” Jagmin points out that no matter what side someone is on, the human need to feel steady in times of confusion is essential. There are also painted bricks with the words, “I WILL NOT throw THESE,” to show the reality of some situations when these needs are not met. In the context of the increased mass political protests, these have a heavier connotation.
In the middle of the shipping container, the piece “O K,” subtly draws the viewer to look closer. Nails spell “I’M OK,” however the nails points are facing the viewer. This gives a tense feeling, much like when a person insists they are okay while their face says otherwise. The outward appearance of Jagmin’s work are what makes “I’m OK” engrossing. Jagen leaves viewers to interpret the mantras. These can become funny, heartbreaking or reflective based on the viewer's experiences that they project. Whether they happen organically or purposefully, the tiny glitches that occur in Jagmin’s work exaggerate the message and show the raw emotion behind the actions. Any misspellings or double letters can change a sentence from ordinary to funny or manic, mimicking the complexity of life.“I’m OK,” shines in it's the simplistic honesty that leaves room for the viewer to explore.