stories we are told
I take books from Western classic literature and American textbooks and use them as the framework for portraits inspired by family photographs. There is a tension between parts of the portraits that are more fully rendered and others that are obscured or distorted by the printed letterforms. The resulting palimpsests become new narratives that invite viewers to reexamine the stories they might already know well—but now through a different lens.
I am interested in memory—how we perceive, retrieve, and recover the past; how we transmit and translate the past into the present; how our present stories create our future. Language is a conveyor for memory, shaping what is remembered and brought forward. With American English established as the de facto national language in the Philippines, what was effectively erased; what future possibilities, eradicated?
This is how language is weaponized. This system was deployed in the residential schools of North America. It was also exported to the Philippines during the 50-year-long American Occupation. I am a product of that system.
My conflation of personal memories with the stories we are told is one way I grapple with my transnational and post-colonial experience. In these works, I envision a simultaneity of place and time, an attempt to cultivate meaning out of the fracture and invisible violence of cultural assimilation.
Interview on HEC-TV