Saturday, February 20, 2010

SAMBALIKHAAN Presents: Ma(H)awa Ka

Image from the Agimat website about the event.

I got there at around seven o’clock fully expecting the event to be in full swing, it was not. The place reminded me somewhat of going back home to Quezon and arriving late at night with no lights except those from vehicles passing by the highway and the distant light bulbs of houses that are far apart, few and far between. Patches of grass alternating with patches of the earth mixed with different sized rocks on uneven grounds. Groping around and trying to find stable footage while navigating towards the light with scattered trees lining up the sides. It was quite nostalgic for me actually. I did not expect what I would find there, and I must say I am shocked.

As I enter the venue, to my right is a film being shown in a blank wall with several framed images of I suppose of known personalities. I distinctly remember seeing the image of Mao Tse Tung on the wall but did not recognise the others. The film which was in a foreign language subtitled in English, from what I gathered of the few minutes that I watched is about a group of kids who were part of a suicide club. There was a lot of blood splattering around so I promptly turned my head and looked around to survey what else is there. To the left was a house that has one portion covered with painting and murals but I went over to a yellow banner that had Noynoy’s distorted face in it first. The person who made it was clearly not voting for him in the coming election. I next surveyed the paintings on one wall of the house. There were several of them completely covering the frontage. I remember seeing one with crucifix that also had a simulation of the famous painting “The Scream” as part of the montage. Everything I was seeing so far strikes me as “dark art”. I went to the exhibit/show starving and expecting to eat dinner afterwards but after seeing the kids’ blood splattered in windows in the film my hungry pangs slowly ebbed away. When I saw the picture of a body covered in blood with some body parts missing it was enough to make me loose what appetite I had left.

This is one of the performances during the event by Talahib People's Music

If I had to describe what I felt when I was there I have to say that it was like trying to connect two opposing poles of a magnet. Repulsive is a strong word to use for what I felt but it clearly describes it. I felt a strong feeling of dislike and not wanting to be there.  My instinct screamed at me to just get out. And I did. The strong depiction of scenes and the negative feeling I got from looking at them invoked such a strong feeling in me. If the artist wanted to shock, then the art is a success. It was shocking at least for me. But if it wanted to explain something, and it wanted to induce feelings other than that, you can say that I have been a coward for not wanting to sit through to listen to what the work and the artist had to say. I simply do not allow myself to be subject to things that I do not want and I have given myself the courage and the freedom to be able to say and stand up for the things that I feel about something whether it be a person, an action or in this case a piece of artwork. Before I wrote this paper, I did some research about performance art and artists. Although I did not stay long enough to even watch the start of the show up-close, I watched a couple of uploaded videos on YouTube about previous performances in Sambalikhaan, visited their website and watched a couple of interviews and read about certain performance artists as well. I wanted to gather information before I wrote about my reaction to the whole thing because I wanted to know more about the topic and have more basis than my reaction to the show I went to alone.

I grew up feeling that I am misunderstood. I have always had this feeling that people I care about has this certain disapproval of me and of my choices in life and what I choose to be doing instead of their choices of what they think I should be doing. I understand the feeling of wanting to be understood. I understand feeling a deep urge to express and explain myself but choosing to keep quiet instead. I feel that I have spent a large part of me trying to suppress the feeling that I want to be accepted and respected for the choices that I continue to make but at the same time feeling angry for having to feel it in the first place. I do not like the feeling of wanting to be understood and having to explain that I am not a shallow selfish bitch I think they think I am. I am also one who has defied convention. I hate boxes and I abhor rules of convention. I do not force my opinions on other people the same way I expect them not to force their opinion on me. I believe in individuality and freedom of expression.

Through the years I have made myself believe that I am broad minded and non-judgemental because I have experienced up to some degree being on the other side of the fence and it was not something that has been a pleasant experience. Being required to see artworks that are not how I usually view it in this class has brought forth questions of my beliefs about myself and the realisation that I am not as broad minded and as accepting as I have made myself believe to be true about me. My experiences before has allowed me to be respectful of people’s choices generally speaking but it has not changed my attitude and has not affected my personal tastes and takes on various subjects and issues.


To sum up the show I will just have to say that this type of art is not for me.

REACTION PAPER: Esthetics Class/ 2nd Semester 2010
PROFESSOR: Jocelyn Calubayan
EVENT DETAILS: Agimat Website
SAMBALIKHAAN Facebook Page: Sambalikhaan 
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