Enraged protesters on the road, signs in hand, yet with no writing or slogans on them. What may have been written seems unsayable, inaccessible, and risky as the unsaid message and the forced silence only gets sensibly more painful.
This scene, from Kiri Dalena’s documentary Erased Slogans (Philippines, 2008), represents the necessity of alternative forms of protest. Here, the historic demonstration was a protest against former president Ferdinand Marcos, who declared martial law in 1972 and held power for over two decades. Kiri Dalena erased the slogans through digitally modified scanned photographs. Against all attempts to erase history and censorship, Dalena returned two more times with blanked-out words on signs in public protests with Recent Slogans (2014) and In Our Image (2015).
In 2010 she dealt with the Maguindaneo massacre and the subsequent funeral ceremonies by presenting the events in anti-chronological order, pointing out the desire to resist, to escape from the threats of death, and to return to an unbowed state of vitality (Requiem for M).
What may have been written seems unsayable, inaccessible, and risky
In Farmer (Mag-uuma) (2014), a young woman sings about social injustice and the extremely harsh living conditions in the Mindanao area. Again, the minimalism of the form creates a huge emotional impact.
In 2018, Dalena visited farmers rebelling against injustice and corruption in their homes and hiding places, masking their faces. Again she created an impressive work of solidarity and is evidently trusted by people who take great risks (Life Masks – Peasant Leader).
Human suffering, of course, transcends political realities. In Lullaby for a Storm (Tungkung Langit) (2013), Dalena presents a portrait of two children who have lost their parents and survived a disastrous typhoon, which wiped out houses and families. Here as well, …
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