This Artist explores the conjugal dictatorship of the Marcoses through Art

Jul 15, 2022 0 comments
In a nation that is still crafted by fragmented historical memories and haunted by the ghost of a conjugal dictatorship, “how do you never forget if you don’t actively remember?” A simple yet illuminating question that the artist Pio Abad asked himself when he was starting his project, 'Fear of Freedom Makes Us See Ghosts’.
Launched on April 19, 2022, the 'Fear of Freedom Makes Us See Ghosts' is a free-admission major solo exhibition by the London-based Filipino artist, Pio Abad. An art exhibition culminated by Abad’s 10-year project that explores the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos by excavating silenced histories, devising actions, and recreating an inventory of objects corrupted by the Marcos regime.

Fear of Freedom Makes Us See Ghosts

Abad's exhibition ‘Fear of Freedom Makes Us See Ghosts’, is currently on view at the Ateneo Art Gallery and will run until July 30. The exhibition takes advantage of the three rooms of the gallery to narrate the ruthless history of the Marcos regime, where he employs a wide variety of media.
From the traditional forms of painting and photography to contemporary innovations such as painstakingly produced 3D printed sculptures of jewelry and augmented reality (AR), the whole exhibit illustrates the history of the Marcos dictatorship as a past that urgently needs to be made present.
Abad drew the exhibition title from a passage in Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” now considered as a foundational text in the social sciences, particularly by social workers and community organizers in postcolonial contexts.

The Artist: Pio Abad

According to the Ateneo Art Gallery, Ateneo holds a significant place for the artist. As Ateneo was the site where Abad’s parents were held under campus arrest in 1980, for their roles in establishing the social democratic movement that would eventually be crucial in toppling the regime.
During the launch of the 'Fear of Freedom Makes Us See Ghosts', Abad mentioned that he didn’t want to end with the Marcos narrative in his exhibition. Saying that the last 14 paintings are each dedicated to family members, friends, political leaders, community organizers and activists who devoted their lives to struggle and who devoted their lives to really rebuilding democracy after the fall of the dictatorship.

Expression of Imagination

Abad also talked about imagination and the privilege artists gave themselves to create art as their ultimate expression of imagination in different ways.
For me, the larger expression of imagination is really in those who dare to imagine hope amidst incredible cynicism and those who insist on creating a space for freedom amidst the direst circumstances,” he said.
Recently, we’ve seen how disinformation and historical distortions gained supremacy within our nation. Yes, not all narratives are the same, but as this haunted historical past still lingers in the present, we should never be frightened and definitely, never forget.
“Fear of Freedom Makes Us See Ghosts” exhibition will run until July 30, 2022, located at the 3rd Floor Soledad V Pangilinan Arts Wing, Ateneo de Manila University Arts Wing, Katipunan Ave, Diliman, Quezon City. You can schedule your visit in advance here. 
For more information, you can also visit their official website.

━━ Written By  Karla Maginit


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