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in the absence of sight @ MSU Galleries (solo exhibition)

  • (SCENE) Metrospace @ MSU 110 Charles St East Lansing, MI 48823 USA (map)

In the absence of sight is a new body of work that draws on the erasures of Pilipinx people by American occupiers during the era of US colonialism in the early 1900s. Through an investigation of American archival photographs, postcards, and images housed in various collections in Michigan and Washington DC, this work reimagines erasure as an opening to speculate other forms of presence. While early depictions and characterizations of the Philippines projected a “savage” people “unfit for self-government”, US colonial officers, journalists, and writers used images of Indigenous Pilipinx people as a mechanism of persuasion to justify their sustained occupation to the American public. Though visual abjection often manifested in images of Pilipinx people either dead or in captivity persisting over three decades, this intervention draws on Pilipinx mythology of the Aswang, a shape shifting ghost-like spirit that wreaks havoc on its targets and their communities. In positioning Indigenous and mestizx resistance to US occupation as a metaphorical permutation of the Aswang, this work foregrounds Pilipinx sovereignty as a way to begin to challenge the formations of representation by the American colonial political agenda.