In 2019, I had three significant literary encounters with queer Filipinx people in landscapes of boredom [where] sex and sexuality appear sneakily, never taking up the entire frame of action; legible LGBTQIA issues like HIV/AIDS and trans rights are non-existent plot points; and the queer action, when it occurs, is privatized and individualized rather than collectively experienced or shared. In spite of these features—or perhaps, enabled by them—these texts do not peddle in centrist LGBT politics of inclusion and assimilation. Rather, they widen the horizons of queer Filipinx America, expanding the places and times we exist in reality and imagination: outside of the bedroom or the gay bar or the dyke march, we infiltrate and transform the rest of this big, boring world.
“After the Apocalypse, Where Do Ghosts Reside?” Commissioned catalog essay for Where Do You Want Ghosts To Reside?, curated by Azin Seraj and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for Southern Exposure, San Francisco, January 17-March 14, 2020. San Francisco: Sming Sming Books, 2020.
For whom does the world feel like it is ending? And for whom has the world already ended and been reborn again, a thousand times over in cycles of alternating joy, madness, and grief?... Countering, feminizing, and queering dominant archives and regimes of violence (violence against women, queer and trans folk; US violence in its War on Terror; the violence of patriarchal nationalism across SASWANA; and ecological violence), the artists of Where Do You Want Ghosts to Reside [create] the visions we need to imagine an afterward and otherwise to all our apocalypses, past and ongoing.
"Seattle Museum Falls Short of “Reimagining” Asian Art as It Promised," Hyperallergic, February 12, 2020
After three years and $56 million, Seattle’s Asian Art Museum reopened to the public on February 8 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a full weekend of free events to introduce visitors to the “reimagined, reinstalled, reopened” space [...] For now, it seems that the Asian Art Museum is relying on its public programs and educational initiatives, rather than its collection, to do the diversifying work of reimagining Asia and its diasporas.
"A Team of Curators Designs a System for Indigenous Artists to Thrive In," Hyperallergic, September 25, 2019
The word ‘decolonization’ has been bandied about all over national and regional arts outlets lately, but it is often misused or misunderstood. In Seattle, the term was used frequently to describe yəhaw̓, the first exhibition in the newly retrofitted, 7,500-square-foot Seattle Office of Arts & Culture ARTS Gallery [...] But you won’t hear its curators call yəhaw̓ a decolonial exhibition. So what is it, if not that?
"An Archive of Refusal: In the Absence of Sight." Commissioned catalog essay for Alejandro T. Acierto's In The Absence of Sight, a solo exhibition at (SCENE) Metrospace at Michigan State University. January 19-March 10, 2018.
In his rearrangements of these scenes of US empire in the Philippines, [Acierto] stages a conversation between viewer and object, across a distance of time and of space, about the violence foundational to whiteness, or the violence of putting the native body to work... [B]y inverting the photographic terms and colonial codes of Exposure, Proof, Transparency, and Negative, In the Absence of Sight creates a temporal and spatial rupture where queer imaginaries can begin to emerge.
Collapse is an ongoing series of paintings made by Dewey Crumpler, a Bay Area-based artist and painting professor at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Together, the five untitled, large canvases in the series consider “the beauty and terror of financial systems and their ecological, social, and aesthetic impacts” by “rendering the container as the locus of awe, wonder, destruction, and fear.” Collapse marks a new phase in Crumpler's prolific career while serving as a reconfirmation of his deep commitments to art, visual sovereignty, and abstraction.
In our rush to find new “political art” for these times, why don’t we also look to those who have been resisting this whole time? My desire in the classroom is not to say that women, people of color, or queer people have been ignored in the art world or in genealogies of politics or art; I am not interested in only narrating us as damaged, as invisible or as lacking. My desire, instead, is to elevate and make central the communities and the artists who have already been doing the work.
In San Francisco, artists in residence at the city dump are valorized for their work. In West Oakland, homeless people who rely on independent recycling centers are criminalized... This isn’t just a story about the Bay Area’s recycling and waste stream, but about who the region values as workers and who is left out with the trash.
Perhaps the best work on display now is the one that is not actually part of the official show: the night before Home Land Security’s press opening, unsanctioned artists or activists scaled the top of Battery Boutelle, writing tags that claimed the space as Ohlone Sacred Land. These words remain as a potent reminder that people are still fighting for a more just way of life outside of the prescribed norms or “acceptable” codes of political or artistic conduct, even as we all may well be on the fast track to a national disaster.
"At the Venice Biennale, the Philippine Pavilion Favors Beauty Over Ugly Truths," Hyperallergic, Nov. 13, 2015
Fifty-one years after its first (and last) appearance and almost 30 years since the end of Martial Law, however, the Philippine Pavilion is back in Venice with curator Patrick Flores’s Tie A String Around The World — a group show that seems to have taken Marcos’s preference for extravagant beauty to heart.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras and Jeremiah Barber's two-person show at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts features newly commissioned solo work by both artists alongside documentation of Barber’s early solo performances and of the pair’s collaborative performance projects. What ties these disparate pieces together is the artists’ relationship to each other; the dynamics of their creative and personal partnership, even more than the themes of individual pieces, manifest the mystery and beauty of Lo Real Maravilloso / The Marvelous Real.
How can one be an ethical witness to a pandemic? Or, to borrow from Douglas Crimp’s essential 1989 essay 'Mourning and Militancy,' what is the appropriate way to mourn and recognize one’s 'terror, rage, guilt, and sadness' about the scourge of HIV/AIDS? ... In my classes on art and the AIDS crisis, one artist has rarely (if ever) been featured: Keith Haring. After visiting Keith Haring: The Political Line, now in its final week at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, I realize just how wrong I have been about Haring all of these years.
As the 'first exhibition to examine the lasting impact of Riot Grrrl on artists and cultural producers working today,' Alien She attempts the difficult task of memorializing a movement while also making a case for its continued relevance to women and the arts. Although visually enticing, the show dilutes the political potency of and contradictions within Riot Grrrl — perhaps inevitable once a movement has been divorced from its living, breathing, countercultural context and is mounted on gallery walls.
"'To Organize the World, To Make it Universally Accessible and Useful': Silicon Valley Monsters in M.O.B.'s Manananggoogle Project," Center for Art + Thought, 2014
Manananggoogle works by collapsing the geographic distance between the Philippines and the US and compressing the elapsed time between the pre-modern world of aswangs and the hyperreal future of high technology. That these industries predispose so many to premature death is the true terror that the Mail Order Brides personify as the executives of Manananggoogle, Inc.; their callousness and embrace of death for their pleasure makes them not bygone creatures of the past but the perfect symbols of the modern world.