“My project, which builds on lines 1011 to 1625 of Cirilo F. Bautista’s epic poem The Archipelago,
for the most part, preoccupies with topography and texture. Treating the text as both scenery and raw visual material, and regarding the page as an intimate geography or panorama, Archipelago reduces the designated sections of the urtext into inventories of material detail and ecological phenomena, image fragments, tangible items, figments, patina, and debris.

Early on in the process of making this project, I drew impetus from the work of anthropologist Stuart Mclean. He deems the island as “at once a landscape densely marked with the enduring physical after-traces of the dead of past generations and one subject to continuous refashioning through ongoing marine erosion,” and explores “the material specificity of islands as settings for a variety of encounters of a rather different kind: between the living and the dead, between solid and liquid modalities
of matter, between humans and a range of other-than-human materialities and, not least, between human-centered, culturally calibrated time (including both historical time and the temporalities
of environmental and geological change) and the more definitionally elusive, impersonal and non-linear time of becoming and dissolution…”
“I tried dismantling the Romantic first-person voice of The Archipelago and actively sought to erode and superscribe Bautista’s grand gestures to mean and enact yet another master narrative, disassembling the poem’s oratorical flourish and affectations of modernist lyricism and all labor toward Allegory and History. What I wanted to achieve was something far less rhetorical and hermeneutic, far less eloquent, the exact opposite of epic and monument, something way more minor,
more dispersed, more ephemeral and interstitial, more ‘pelagic’, and something that finally conjures a seemingly archival and littoral sedimentation.

I had to find a way around the understandable hagiographic impulse of the exhibition project to afford to remain critical towards Bautista’s writing without foregoing or becoming irreverent to the urtext and Bautista’s legacy.”

“I began working on it with my own personal reservations with Bautista’s lyric aesthetics, coming from an entirely different school and milieu of writing and artmaking, not to mention the apparently predominantly macho leanings of The Archipelago, but I framed these initial qualms as a good challenge to recast and build upon his poem and treat it as a rather productive prompt and opportunity, combing through the urtext for ‘contact zones’ and nodes of consonance with my artistic and thematic preoccupations to be developed into a new work. Generally speaking, the current situation (pandemic) has not been conducive for me in terms of productivity and artmaking. Apart from the difficulty to master new rhythms, gain momentum and sustain productivity during this “new normal,” I have also been trying to find my footing and recalibrate our notions of urgency given these crises.

I have been here in our family home in Tarlac, away from my studio in Los Baños for three months now because of the lockdown, so I worked on my project away from the convenience of having the tools and resources back in my studio. The images were shot using an old, phased out camera phone. The only laptop available to me was a government-issued laptop from work that does not allow apps to be installed. The rest of my equipment is in Los Baños, so I worked with very limited and simple digital tools while editing and compiling my manuscript. I proceeded with the project with the aim of transforming and recasting the original text in a manner that generates a new work that prominently resonates and performs these ideas, and with our own archipelago in mind.”