KIRI DALENA: I’ve been making films since I was eighteen. From making documentaries, I saw that it was the best or most efficient way to respond to contemporary issues and ongoing present-day situations. That’s why my works in the last twenty years have been mostly documentaries as well as short films.
I was born to a family of artists. My father is a painter and my mother is a sculptor. But when I was growing up I decided that I wanted to pursue something different. I became involved in activism.
For Erased Slogans, I took photojournalistic images taken during that period before martial law was declared. When martial law was declared in 1972, all of the newspapers were closed down and all of these protest actions and strikes became illegal and had to disappear.
When I had those photographs within my reach, I decided to erase the words from these banners and placards. When I was deleting it, then I saw also that it meant many other things. It meant forgetting that period [had] transpired. But then when I started to show it to other people, it had another meaning for them. It gave them the impulse to try to remember.
I’m still surprised when it’s received well or even understood outside of the country, because a lot of the issues here are issues which I also feel I’m still trying to understand or figure out. I have understood that change will not necessarily come in my lifetime. It can take generations to really achieve change. It’s a long haul for all of us.
Artist Kiri Dalena discusses the activism behind her work Erased Slogans, based on digitally altered archival images of 1970s protests in Manila.
Kiri Dalena’s work Erased Slogans consists of a series of photographic prints of protesters holding placards with the slogans removed, based on archival newspaper images of protests in Manila in the 1970s.
The images speak to a formative moment of social action and turmoil in the Philippines during the authoritarian Marcos regime (1965–1986), just before Ferdinand Marcos’s declaration of martial law in 1972, and to Dalena’s own stance as a human rights activist. The artist’s digital removal of the slogans from the placards wipes away the messaging and leaves behind only a blank white surface. The void alludes to voices of dissent that have been silenced and to the myriad forms of protest that continue today, even if not always articulated in words.
- Produced by
- Curatorial Research
Pauline J. Yao, Shirley Surya, Isabella Tam, William Seung, Vera Lam
- Special Thanks
This video was originally published on M+ Stories.