"Snare For Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive" opens at AAG this 16 September
05 Sep 2023
Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive is a collaborative research art project of Kiri Dalena, Lizza May David, and Jaclyn Reyes that inquire into the tangents of the country’s colonial past, archiving, and its impacts on being Filipina. Distinct in their own practice , each artist negotiates their own and the current generation’s positions against an imperial past and present as women residing in the Philippines, Germany, and the United States. This three part series, curated by Marika Constantino and Iris Ferrer, was first mounted at The Panublion Museum (Roxas City, Capiz), then at the Alfredo F Tadiar Library (San Fernando, La Union) with the final iteration opening at the Ateneo Art Gallery this September 16, 2023, Saturday with an Artists’ talk.
The project builds upon the deeply embedded imagery and knowledge of Dean Worcester; whose photos were eventually bought by German merchant Georg Küppers-Loosen, and is part of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum’s archive in Cologne, Germany. Worcester, an ornithologist and Secretary of Interior of the Philippine Islands during the American colonial period, was known for his book The Philippine Islands and their People. Worcester’s views shaped US public opinion, foreign policy, and inevitably what we know to be Filipino history and identity.
Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive challenges these deeply embedded imagery by reciprocating Worcester’s endeavor: to engage with archival images like specimens and to claim truths a camera was “made to tell.” It encourages viewers to question the colonial gaze, the accessibility of these historical records, and the ways in which our responses to these images shape how we engage with our predecessors. Finally, it asks what these images imply and reveal about Filipinos today considering that these have historically been used as evidence of Filipinos’ incapability of self-governance.
Since the collaboration began in 2020, Dalena, David, and Reyes have paved their own paths of inquiries while converging through thought partnership as seen on their website (https://www.snareforbirds.com). This act of working together in itself has become its own decolonizing ritual, as they intentionally interrupt the disembodiment of the global Filipino diaspora through piecing together parts of fragmented histories and solidarities.
The final iteration of the project to be mounted at the Ateneo Art Gallery is seen neither as a conclusion nor culmination of the research; rather, it is perceived to be a preamble for more avenues of conversations to ensue. Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive is a look at our collective history in order to deal with the present with hopes of forging a just and equitable future. The colonial past, though riddled with pain and adversity, requires persistent disruptions not only to dislocate power structures but to also re-define what is known to be truths.
Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive is mounted with support from the Goethe-Institut Manila, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, co-presented with The Panublion Museum (Roxas City, Capiz), Alfredo F Tadiar Library and Puón (San Fernando, La Union). The exhibition is on-view from 16 September 2023 – 17 February 2024 at the Wilson L Sy Prints and Drawings Gallery, 2F Ateneo Art Gallery, Soledad V Pangilinan Arts Wing, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University. Non-Ateneo guests must visit https://go.ateneo.net/MyVisitAAG at least one (1) hour before their visit for Campus Access. For more information, visit ateneoartgallery.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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