Arts & Culture

This Is Art Fair Philippines' Most Provocative and Chilling Exhibit

An exhibit at this year's new photography section sheds light on a reality that's right under our noses. Make sure you sit on the chair and listen.
IMAGE IAN SANTOS
Comments

I sit on the lone chair inside the booth. Twelve-year-old Christine’s soft voice crackles from a speaker over my head. “Nakatira po ako sa Payatas, pangalawa po ako sa pitong magkakapatid. Pangarap ko po noong maliit ako na maging pulis. Noong nakulong naman po ‘yung mama ko, pangarap ko po abogado. Si papa ko ay mabait po siyapinapagalitan po kami tapos mamaya nilalambing po kami tapos binibiro ako ni papa, ‘Uy, dalaga na anak ko, may dalaga akong anak.’”

Then come the goosebumps. A few minutes into her recording, Christine begins to sob uncontrollably as she explains how her father, a victim of extrajudicial killings around the country, had been hunted down and shot by the police, the same group of people she once aspired to be part of.


The recording is played directly above a blue armchair defiled by a single bullet hole, where Christine's father was actually shot. A projection of a girl speaking, presumably Christine, plays across. This case is just one of many that Everyday Impunity chose to highlight at their Art Fair installation called “Ang Mga Walang Pangalan.”


Curated by Erwin Romulo, with photography by Carlo Gabuco, music by Juan Miguel Sobrepeña, sound system design by Mark Laccay, and lighting design by Lyle Sacris, the chilling exhibit is set in a dimly lit room at the fair’s venue. The entire left side of the wall displays hundreds of Gabuco’s photos of various killings and the bloody aftermath of the president’s war on drugs. To recreate the feeling of stepping into a crime scene, Sacris hung up a few dangling lights that rotated and flickered, while Sobrepeña provided an eerie background noise to accompany the heart-wrenching scene in each of the photos and Laccay designed the sound system, which played Christine's voice recording.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW


Erwin Romulo, Carlo Gabuco, Mark Laccay, Juan Miguel Sobrepeña, and Lyle Sacris



Curator Erwin Romulo and Juan Miguel Sobrepeña explain the exhibit to fairgoers.

Gabuco took to the streets for two years, documenting the killings, which would usually occur at night in urban poor neighborhoods such as Christine’s in Payatas. His assignments would carry on until the next day when the family of the deceased would mourn, hold wakes, and plan funerals for their loved ones. “There was a pattern. Their faces were wrapped and there was cardboard,” Gabuco tells Town&Country. It was in July 2016 that he first decided to reveal the stories of these unfortunate victims by documenting the injustices brought upon them.


Gabuco's photos displayed at Art Fair.

The visual artist is very vocal about his long-term project, posting photos on an Instagram account called Everyday Impunity and on his own website. While his risky work has been recognized internationally and won him a grant from the Magnum Foundation Fund, Gabuco chooses to focus his camera on the trail of devastated families these killings have left behind. “This is not just a story about a war nor politics. This is a story about change and its high cost,” Gabuco once told photography website Invisible Photographer.

In most of the cases, Gabuco noticed a recurring theme that seems unthinkable to those oblivious to the happenings—a theme that centered on an overpowering sense of poverty. “They’re poor. They didn’t have money to bury their dead and they’re scared,” he says. “They feel vulnerable and at the same time, neglected and helpless.” He recounts that because of this fear and helplessness, there are cases when the families would not even bury their dead or claim the bodies anymore.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Gabuco admits that he has felt unsafe “several times” but the families and the people surrounding the EJK victims are in a more vulnerable state. “We’re protected,” he stresses. They’re not.

Comments
View More Articles About:
About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
View Other Articles From Hannah
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
Ideas that go way beyond the traditional altar.
 
Share
Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex!
 
Share
Interior designer Jonathan Matti was the sole Filipino at the intimate de Gournay dinner at Lord David Cholmondeley's Norfolk Estate.
 
Share
Whether you're a single traveler, on vacation with a partner or with your family, try these underrated experiences in Bohol.
 
Share
Only eight Filipinas made it to Forbes magazine’s latest list of 50 richest people in the Philippines.
 
Share
Their children prepared a lovely surprise in their family home.
 
Share
From champagne-flavored gummy bears to a kit for making your own sparkling wine, these will please any champagne fanatic.
 
Share
In Japanese-occupied Manila, an American woman who was known as "Madame Tsubaki" ran a night club that offered drinks, music, and companionship to homesick soldiers. It was a front for a spy ring that funneled information and supplies to guerilla groups outside the city.
 
Share
Screenwriter Josh Singer on how he and Damien Chazelle brought the astronaut's story to the big screen.
 
Share
The 36-year-old bride said her grandmother's death affected her decision.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US