Moshe Ladanga

Archive for November 2007

1 W 9- Return of the Native

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The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. There is this filmmaker in the Philippines named “Kidlat Tahimik” (Silent Lightning). His filmmaking practice is something unique, but personally I am not so keen on it. His story is an interesting one though, and his first film, featured in the poster above, is a critique of the modern western world, or rather, a pseudo-documentary vision of the Filipino’s experience of the Western world.

In one scene, he shows a jeepney (a frankenstein Filipino concoction of an American GI jeep, passenger vehicle and cultural icon) in the Champs Elysees. This juxtaposition strikes at several fronts; for many of us Filipinos, it represents the quintessential national identity, and the image of it being in the cultural capital of Europe jars the senses. But there is something problematic in this, and it is that of exoticism. Edward Said‘s Orientalism explains it as the concept of the Other, where anything foreign, unknown, undefined, was given the value of treasure, of something to be acquired- and on the other hand, Occidentalism, the conceptual equivalent of the former, was a hand of power, of definition, giving “substance” to the unknown, making it known, naming it to render it usable, to be “of value”.

When I peruse through the web pages from the Philippines, I see him, still promoting his cause of returning the Filipino to the “native”, meaning the cultural identity of our pre-colonial days. But I cringe at the cultural mechanism of donning traditional clothes to promote an “idea” of my country, and yet I love the ikat, the barong, the jeepney- not only because it is part of my culture, but because these things were made by hand, toiled in time, crafted with care.

In my personal experience, I’ve had the privilege of living with the so-called “lost culture” of the Philippines, and there, I’ve found a home. We only stayed there for a year, but that year changed my life, or to put it bluntly, saved my life. The place is beautiful, yes, the food, the air- all exquisite, a Shangri-la, Foucault’s Heterotopia- but it is the family that we got to know, the lives that we got to share with, the shelter of another kind of life that changed me. I was 25, still in search of something outside of me to solidify what I knew instinctively- in a changing world, can there still be a home for what we feel as truth, dignity, integrity?

The hours there lost their function; time was not a thick psychological fog, it was like a river that would course through the body and inform you not of loss, but of possibility. The family that took us in restored our belief in our beliefs, gave us space to be in solitude, shared their lives as we opened ours. It is not so much as the experience of discovering something in a place, but an experience of letting the self discover itself.

These past months have been quite interesting. Been on the typical routes, the experience of the tube, the weather, the astringent efficacy of First World life. Living with cameras around induces psychological vertigo, and you balance on a tightrope: learn what you can, but be who you are. A few weeks ago I had to prepare for a bank thing, and I rummaged for documents. On my passport are the marks of my passage, the formalities of territory, politics, economy; on my skin are the marks of genealogy, culture, demography. I looked for a coat, smelled it and inspected it (gotta smell like money to get some money). I took a hold of that moment, looked at myself in the mirror and saw only a reflection.



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November 16, 2007 at 10:49 PM

1W 8- The Politics of the Personal

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To review the feedback to our proposal, we took everything into account. We decided to look at it from within the relationship, and study the effects of what people said. We took it as a challenge to refine what the collaboration is, and to make it an instrument of experimentation. We also want to reveal what is within us, within each other, and hopefully speak of what is “art and what is a lie” (Jeannette Winterson, Art&lies).

Basing our collaboration experiment on the form of a discourse (Foucault, Power/Knowledge), I have decided to study drawing as an act, juxtaposed with my video work as a visual assemblage of symbols associated with power, specifically territory.


Not my drawing, but in his spirit I shall spread his image, haha:)

Vive la resistance!!!

Written by mosheladanga

November 5, 2007 at 2:22 PM

Posted in Reflections

1W 8- Reflection:The Act of Drawing

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I remember Katrin and I talking about Pollock with Nikolas, and the oft-repeated story/myth of him being suspended over the canvas, twisting and turning to render those beautiful complexities. Then I came upon Jonathan Kearney’s site, in which he mentions Pollock as part of the contextualisation of his work. In the interview he cites, Pollock describes this desire to “express inner worlds”. That lead me to examine my drawings, and in particular, the act of drawing.

For years, drawing for me I believed was a way of expressing how I see. It was a personal thing, a way to have a space to myself, a salve to the often tumultuous life in Manila. The abstracts that I would make were done with charcoal sticks, quick and intuitive strokes and smears of black. The process of making it is a paradoxical one, and I remember specific feelings when I look at them. One would take me around 10 minutes to do, but I remember feeling this willful intensity, like an act of un-thinking, summoning the unconscious. Yet there was a sense of purpose to it, and I would make it a point to finish a piece in one sitting.

abstract05.jpg abstract016.jpg abstract02.jpg

But when I would make my figurative drawings, the process is strikingly different; it would take me an hour to finish a piece in one sitting, and at times I can leave it and finish it in the next couple of days. In contrast to the abstracts, there was a very thorough, deliberate feeling throughout the process.

portrait.jpg bodies-study03.jpg bodies-study09.jpg

I know, I might be belaboring the obvious, but there is something in the process itself that is interesting. When I would start off with my body studies, I would begin with a line, a stroke that would lead me to other strokes and the process becomes more and more deliberate, until the image is executed with full control. Also, there is this smearing technique that I use, which I perceive as a way of experimenting with the notion of volume, mass weight (evident in drawing 2 above). But the weird thing is, when I do my figurative work, I don’t remember any specific feelings when I would view them. It was as if I was describing something I felt, the act of it becoming a release. The abstracts though bring me back to particular times in my life, and when I look at them I feel like being in a tunnel, a mix of emotion, and all the other details of that time defined by these emotions.

My question is how does the act of drawing become a means of active thought? There is a common misunderstanding that drawing is an authentic act, or, as it was painted by critics in the case of Pollock (and in a hack of a job, Matthew Barney), a heroic one. I want to understand how my process of drawing can develop into an act of discernment, of not only expressing inner worlds, but maybe engaging this world, engaging my own illusions.

Written by mosheladanga

November 5, 2007 at 2:20 PM

intimacy, collaboration and everything between and against

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There is something quite disturbing about the way people reveal themselves in how they point their swords.

A Few Key Words:







big brother







I think we’re onto something- last time I checked my watch, we were debating for more than an hour- this is good:)

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November 1, 2007 at 1:05 AM

1W 8- October 31, 2007, Thursday in Mada room

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Written by mosheladanga

November 1, 2007 at 12:22 AM