Kidlat Tahimik: His majestic installation at Crystal Palace in Spain
National Artist for Film Kidlat Tahimik will close and disassemble his majestic installation – exhibit at the Reina Sofia Museum at the Palacio de Cristal ( Glass or Crystal Palace) located at the Buen Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain.
This ends his four monthlong exhibit commemorating 500 years of Rockstar Conquerors: Magellan, Marilyn, Mickey, and Brother Damaso (1521 to 2021).
According to the Reina Sofia website, “ this project was created especially for the occasion. It reviewed the building’s past, the history of colonialism in the Philippines and the influence of cultural imperialism today.”
Write-ups claim, “The Palacio de Cristal, in the shape of a Greek cross, is made almost entirely of glass set in an iron framework on a brick base, which is decorated with ceramics. Its cupola makes the structure over 22 meters high.
It is the work of a French architect but the curved architecture is more comparable to the techniques pioneered by the British architects Joseph Paxton (who was responsible for London’s Crystal Palace) and Decimus Burton (who was responsible for the Palm House at Kew Gardens).”
The exhibit formally opened on Oct. 28, 2021 and will close three weeks from now, on March 6, 2022.
A preview of the colossal installation was first exhibited at the Baguio Convention Center as part of the IbagiwCreative Festival of 2020 with the “Interlinked” exhibit curated by ErlynAlcantara assisted by Ompong Tan.
The installation lasted until May 2021. It was a showcase of what was forthcoming- the grand exhibit at the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid, attended by multifarious members of the media and the art community of Europe.
The installationwas transferred to the Baguio Museum and the Sunshine Park in June of 2021 as an added setting for Independence Day and a treat to the Baguio community before the works were shipped to Spain in July 2021. The majestic installation has gone full circle.
Baguio born Kidlat Tahimik a.k.a Eric Oteyza de Guia is the father of independent film. Reina Sofia describes him as, “ a filmmaker, performer, writer and artist, developing contemporary myths and fables criticizing colonialism, capitalism, globalization and cultural imperialism. His artistic practice consists of creating large-scale, apparently chaotic installations that articulate anachronistic narrative relationships, constructing stories that draw on historical sources and contemporary mythologies to bring open endings to the present.”
To us Baguio folks, he is “Tatay”, the man with a long goatee and long white hair, who champions the causes of our local Baguio and Cordillera artists and the preservation of Baguio’s pristine environment.
He proudly wears his bahag or g-string with his multi-colored vest, loose pants with suspenders and carries his bamboo camera.
He is your grand “pukpok-tastas” architect who delights in the design of the ever-changing landscape of nature. Just go to the Victor Oteyza Community Art Space (Vocas) or Ili-likha and you will know what I mean. No straight lines for Kidlat.
The epic exhibition at the Reina Sofia Museum was depicted in three sculptural groups, representing key moments in the history of colonialism in the Philippines:
1.) in 1521, the arrival of the Magellan expedition and his death at the hands of Lapulapu, the datu or tribal chief of the island Mactan. It was a representation of a cultural battle;
2.) in 1887,The Palacio de Cristal was built alongside the Pabellón Central, one of the main venues of the 1887 Philippines Exposition which was denounced by Dr. José Rizal – forerunner of our Philippine Independence, as a “human zoo” because indigenous people were exhibited as an exotic species and
3.) the current cultural clash between American colonialism and indigenous resistance. The installation portrayed the confrontation of the wooden images of Marilyn Monroe (goddess of the wind in Hollywood and Inhabian (goddess of the wind from the Igorotethnic group).
Kidlat Tahimik quantifies it up as, “ a culture war that continues even today, where Hollywood continues to dominate our stories. This is a way of telling Hollywood to go away, that we have our own narratives, that we are fed up with their stories of sex and violence. The superheroes in the exhibit also continues to colonize us, like a cultural virus.”
Other parts of the installation were the indigenous (indo-genius) works of KidlatTahimik’sthree artists sons: Kidlat, Kawayan, and Kabunyan.
Kidlat Sr. (the son) shares: “Our works with Kawayan in Tatay’s 1897 section was based on the colonization period. A statement on the time the colonizers felt they were ‘civilizing’ us. Kawayan’s work was based on Spoliarium that won the award for Juan Luna. In turn, my work was for the sciences. I was looking at Rizal as an ophthalmologist and weaving it with the tribal past. Kabunyan’s work on the other hand symbolized the new acquisition of the colonizers, the islands.”
Kidlat names the members of the Baguio crew who set up the installations as: Jun Ritumalta, Santos Bayucca, Randy Bulayo, Michael Palomar, Jayson Taguyungon, Chris Atiwon, himself and nanayKatrin.
Works displayed were: suspended installations in rockets, mosaicand the giant boat of Magellan.
Tatay Kidlat also did his cultural dance in his bahag and toga complete with his traditional storytelling to the delight of his audience.
Family, siblings and friends from all parts of the globe came to witness this momentous event in Spain for the glory of the Philippines. Mabuhay ka, KidlatTahimik!
(Photo credits to Kidlat de Guia)