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Saturday, September 12, 2009

KIRI DALENA : 2009 ATENEO ART AWARDS SHORT-LISTED


KIRI DALENA – “Barricade, book of slogans, erased slogans and isolation room” in Keeping the Faith: Acts of Mediation” at the Lopez Memorial Museum

Dialogues between archives and contemporary art practice are inevitable as induced tensions. Museums and libraries are repositories of memory and they are appointed as sites for preservation and education, where silence, stasis and stringent controls on tangibility and visibility are imposed. The artist enters this realm and causes a disruption of order. Within this context, installation art offers avenues to liberate memory from reliquary confines.

Dalena embarks on this dialogue by referencing photographs of protests and rallies during the period of Martial Law and adjuncts this to present-day extrajudicial killings. The sentiment is just to be expected. A portrait of state brutality in these past visual journals resonates in the unsolved and unresolved executions and disappearances that the artist deals with in her advocacy work. But this is not simply an emotional confrontation between past and present. Dalena had chosen instead to employ a conscious placement of transcriptions within a setting of school chairs and tables. Read as evidences after the fact, the transcripts are regarded in the texts removed from the photographed placards which have then been transferred into little red books.

A pile of chairs recall the barricades built during the First Quarter Storm, of which one arm had been detached and reattached to cradle a copy of the book. Fallen clay bodies are strewn among the rubble, their outlines repeated on the wall. The museum’s storage is transformed into an isolation room for one more crouching figure where the texts are again transcribed as a haunting recitation.

The installation sums up what the artist admits to as borrowed memories which she cannot help but manipulate within her own sphere of meanings. By transferring archive into transformative action, Dalena not only opens a renewed awareness of the past. She makes us confront our comfortable tendency to bury history within its silent and stately demarcations.


Notes by Karen Ocampo Flores


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