There is Another Sky
Group Art Exhibit
Aba Dalena | Kiri Dalena | Aubrey Llamas | Jose Olarte | Jippy Pascua | Jeffrie Po | John Torres | Mordz Visitacion | Lina Zacher
23 April - 24 June 2016
Horizons of the real
There is Another Sky is a quiet declaration of parallel states. It is an acknowledgement of other bodies: structures existing separately from what was assumed as a common, overarching cosmos.
The exhibition is comprised of video and photography-based works, encountered as aspects of a larger narrative of place. These are distilled from a workshop organised by Kiri Dalena in October 2015, which produced short features and documentation projects by filmmakers, artists and photographers either residing or maintaining ties to Northern Mindanao.
The Philippines is often represented, often problematically, as either a tropic paradise or Third World slum: a location of the exotic other. These images from the peripheries rebut such binaries, attesting to the more complex backdrop of history, culture and struggles within and beyond the region’s borders. They testify to the state of unevenness within the archipelago itself, seen in its diverse ecologies, ethnographic densities, and social realities.
This contrast between simultaneously unfolding worlds is highlighted in moving pictures by John Torres and Aubrey Llamas. Torres offers a montage of local foliage encountered randomly, hinting at how ecology connects the experience of the everyday. Llamas immerses in Iligan’s hinterlands, following the rhythm of life in a Higaonon community preparing to hold a thanksgiving ritual. These two gestures carefully tread away from spectacle, quietly linking the commonplace and the commons. The material duality of perception is likewise highlighted in how Jippy Pascua and Dalena wield the slide carousel and neon light as markers of being there before and being in the now, respectively.
Other works delve into the experience of dispossession and disasters that persists, unseen, throughout the region’s mountains, forests and coasts. Jeffrie Po, for instance, combines documentary and performative gestures revolving around the lives of typhoon Sendong (Washi) survivors now working as quarry workers along the Cagayan River.
In recent months, thousands of lumad indigenous peoples in the region have been displaced by the military’s counter-insurgency operations. Some artists responded to this state of unrest by going to the centers of struggle, such as picket lines, communities and evacuation centers. Jose Olarte and Mordz Visitacion, for instance, document the human face not only as ethnographic profile but also as concrete testimonial evidence of violence, sufferance and resistance. Aba Dalena and Lina Zacher followed the Lakbayan marches in Manila to collaborate on art workshops in Surigao del Sur, eventually ending up with a still unfolding story of their own pursuit.
On April 1, the violent dispersal of drought-affected farmers asking for food aid in nearby Kidapawan, North Cotabato again surfaces the question of uneven systems and alternatives to the present. The narratives explored in the exhibition point to the horizon of possibilities—whether filmic, material or actively interventionist—that opens up, whenever we choose to look for these other skies and conditions of the real.