Shut Up & Dance (100cm x 160cm)
Shut up and dance,
It's all you're good for.
You are not free.
You are not worthy,
Your thoughts are nothing,
You can't feel pain
As you are nothing.
You beat me with words and actions,
You hit my head
Many, many times
With heavy books,
To see if I break.
Am I broken, yet?
I have always had difficulty communicating verbally. My brain has so much going on, all at the same time, that it overwhelms. It takes me longer than most people to form thoughts and find the words to express them. I communicate physically and visually through painting, but I have not always been able to do this.
As a child, my siblings would have, what I perceived as, intellectual discussions, which flowed quickly from one subject to another. By the time I had formed a thought about a subject, they would have moved on to another, so my contributions never made any sense. "Just shut up and dance," they would say. Children can be cruel without having a full understanding of what they are doing. But their cruelty still hurts.
Do You Want Me To Die Here In London? (100cm x 150cm)
My siblings and I were wild children and rarely behaved well. My parents would often offer a home to people who had recently arrived from the Philippines and they would have to survive the onslaught of four unruly children. On one occasion, a particularly exasperated guest shouted, "DO YOU WANT ME TO DIE HERE IN LONDON!"
Those words ring in my head to this day as I think about the many thousands of Filipinas who have travelled the world to build a better life for their families back home. So many have been exploited and subjected to horrific and traumatic abuse at the hands of their employers. It was not very long ago that it was acceptable to joke about the Filipino houseboy that was kept in the cupboard. People will sacrifice a lot for their family.
Give A Man A Spear (100cm x 115cm)
As a person of mixed heritage (Spanish, Filipino and Mexican), I walk an uncomfortable line as a descendant of colonisers and colonised. As a descendant of Spanish colonisers, should I be ashamed of my heritage? As an adult I have found that I feel most at home in Spain, and find Spanish culture familiar and comfortable. But if I embrace my Spanish heritage more, do I lose some of my Filipinoness?
Kiss The Kettle (100cm x 115cm)
I have big lips. This is a common Filipino characteristic, but mine are especially full. As a child and even as an adult I was often teased about my lips. When I was a very young child my brother decided to play a trick on me. The metal kettle had just boiled and he told me to kiss the kettle. I did. My lips were burnt, blistered and bleeding. I never told anyone what had happened.
There Is No Fear In Love (100cm x 150cm)
Or is there? This painting is about what can happen in relationships behind closed doors.
In a past relationship I thought I was loved and even felt loved, but many of the things that I interpreted as love I now know were just abuse. I have used my hands and nails to drag paint across the canvas to recreate the feeling of being dragged by my feet, while desperately try, and failing, to hold on to something, before being beaten with a wooden chopping board.
I Am A Pinoy Boy? (100cm x 115cm)
Am I a Pinoy boy? Am I a Pinoy boy?
Growing up I could be very feminine and enjoyed dressing up, make up and playing with dolls. As an adult I have been characterised as soft, weak and feminine.
I question whether soft and weak equals feminine. I question whether soft equals weak. Had I been born during this millenium would I be considering gender reassignment? I question the labelling of different behavioural characteristics and preferences and being gendered at all.
Existencia (100cm x 160cm)
We give ourselves and each other labels of many different kinds. We use them to make sense of our world. To find commonality and community as well as to marginalise and exclude.
What is beyond labels? If I were to strip all of my labels away completely, what would be left? Just existence?
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