Those Without Names Favorite 



Mar 1 2018


Manila, Philippines

In an art fair in Manila in March last year, one installation caught everybody’s eye.

A blue single-seater armchair sits in the middle of a darkened room. It is surrounded by lamps hanging from the ceiling and rotating; another lamp hangs directly above it. The voice of a young girl named Christine, whose fleeting image is projected on a wall, tells the story of how her father knelt in front of the police before he was shot right in front of her.

Before spectators can fully understand what was happening, they get up to realise that the chair they have been sitting on has a bullet hole in it. And just behind it, a bullet wrapped in clear plastic is pinned to the wall – the bullet that killed Christine’s father.

“It’s really happening, isn’t it?” one spectator tells Carlo Gabuco, the artist who made the installation, as she turns to see a wall covered with hundreds of photos of killings, mourning and funerals from the country’s ‘war on drugs’.

The installation is aptly titled ‘Those Without Names’, a phrase borrowed from a poem of Pete Lacaba, a renowned Filipino poet, film-maker and journalist. The title could very well describe the thousands of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country who have become faceless and nameless statistics: more than 20,000 since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in July 2016, according to human rights groups; only a handful of unfortunate mistakes according to government officials, who insist that most of the more than 5,000 people who have died in the ‘war on drugs’ all resisted arrest and died during legitimate police operations.

Responses to the work on social media testify to its power. “One of the most memorable galleries in this year’s Art Fair,” wrote one Instagram user. “Probably one of the best and striking stand-alone exhibits I’ve seen,“ wrote another. “Pretty overwhelming at first (especially for me going to the Art Fair for the first time) yet these simply moved me to better understand what lies on the aftermath of the present administration’s war on drugs in the communities of Metro Manila."

Posted by nikitaduke on

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