Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar

Seminar led by Greg Dvorak

Tues, August 20 7PM
(free and open to the public)
Thurs, August 22 1-4PM
Fri, August 23 1-4PM


This lecture and related workshops, led by Pacific/Asia cultural historian and curator Greg Dvorak, professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, invites participants to visually explore the deeper patterns of violence, dehumanization, resistance, and empowerment that run through the colonized and militarized landscapes and seascapes connected to, but beyond the horizon of, the Filipino experience. Focusing especially on the region of Northern Oceania (a region commonly known as Micronesia), the Philippines’ closest Pacific neighborhood, Dvorak will draw together diverse and transoceanic ideas around propaganda, art, resistance, visibility and invisibility between major nations and small communities.  

When asked about “the war” in the Pacific and their memories about it, Islanders tend to ask, “what war?” For Micronesians, and many Islanders, war is a topic that extends back through at least five hundred years of Western and Asian colonial history, and also into ancestral time over thousands of years.  The Pacific War is not the only war that Islanders are aware of: In their consciousness exists many other battles, such as the struggle against militarism and nuclear testing, the struggle against the “environmental colonialism” that is causing climate change and sea level rise, and the ongoing struggle for sovereignty and self-determination.  In a deeper perspective, Islanders also look back to the battles fought over land by their brave ancestors who navigated to these islands. Indigenous people throughout the Pacific region, dating back to the time of Ferdinand Magellan, share a great deal in common with the Filipino people, but this is not a history ordinarily taught in the Philippines.  Additionally, the indigenous people of the Philippines share deep ancestral Austronesian roots with the people who settled the Pacific Islands. Paying attention to these visual and genealogical histories in the 20th and 21st centuries, while being mindful of the larger context of the ongoing wars in Oceania, will help participants gain a better literacy of contemporary decolonization and demilitarization as seen in art from the region, and how that links or does not link with conversations happening in the contemporary Philippines.

Open to all backgrounds and levels. Applicants with strong interest in history, art history, and curatorial studies are encouraged to apply.

Movement and Choreographic Turn in Performance

Workshop led by Joshua Serafin

Tues, August 27 1-4PM
Wed, August 28 1-4PM
Thurs, August 29 1-4PM

This three-days workshop will focus on discussing and mapping current contemporary dance practices both in Europe and Asia. Classes will focus on the idea of manipulating the body through understanding the relationship between internal and external time and space that exist in both environments through movement and introduces tools to explore a certain movement vocabulary that hopes to benefit the participant agency in their own practice and state of performativity. This excercise hopes to gain consciousness in engaging the entirety of the body to design architectural composition that proposes Ideal and Dystopia architecture. In turn, that this imagining transcends a certain sensation to its viewers.

The idea of creating an ideal identity will also be explored. Discussing what is “Ideal” and what is “Identity” through creating an alter-ego. To allow and manifest in our body, and to give it life.

Open to applicants who have an intermediate to advance dance/movement training. Students to professional. Also open to actors. Please send a completed application form, CV, and URL link to a previous performative work or portfolio. 

Schedule subject to change.

Movement and Choreographic Turn in Performance

Workshop led by Eisa Jocson with collaborators Joshua Serafin, Russ Ligtas, Bunny Cadag, and Cathrine Go 

Fri, August 30
Sat, August 31
Sun, September 1
Mon, September 2
Tues, September 3
Wed, September 4
(free and open to the public)
Thurs, September 5
Saturday, September 7
(free and open to the public)

*Perfect attendance is required.

Manila Zoo: A Creation Workshop with Eisa Jocson 

In Disney’s empire of manufacturing “happiness,” animals and objects are anthropomorphized, formatted with US-American values and ways of being. Wherein lions are kings; monkey, cricket and fish are sidekicks to humans; teapot is a matriarchal surrogate; and zoos are utopias—all brightly constructed to keep humans self-centeredly entertained and within the empire’s global reach.

 In Hong Kong Disneyland, Filipinos are the favorite entertainment labor force. They are employed as highly skilled, energetic, world-class happiness-machines and fabricated as experts in performing anything effectively entertaining. 

This four-days workshop will create a new work as the third part of Jocson’s Happyland Series, Manila Zoo [working title]. In Happyland 1: Princess, two Filipino performers hijacked the figure of Snow White. Happyland 2: Your Highness, a group of ballet dancers unpacks their formatted ideal bodies made to enter the Disney workforce. This tertiary stage pushes Filipino performativity to transform from anthropomorphic happy animals in the Disneyland park into actual animals captured in the zoo, performing the labor of zoo animals. 

 The work is grounded in the study of animal behavior in zoos. Animals in the zoo have developed behavioral disorders not found in the wild, such as abnormal repetitive behavior and self-aggression. In confinement, animals suffer from isolation, stress, depression, anxiety, helplessness and boredom, and these symptoms strangely mirror conditions found in humans living in densely populated cities. 

By performing as animals, the dancers will exit human logic and refuse to participate in servicing and entertaining as humans. However, as captives of the zoo they are constantly subjected to human voyeurism and exploitation.  

Open to all levels. Performance background a must. Please send a completed application form, CV, and URL link to a previous performative work or portfolio. 

This workshop will take place at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, in Bagac, Bataan. 
Participation fee: 3,000PHP
Transportation, Lodging and Meals will be provided. 

Stay tuned for more upcoming schedule of seminars and workshops:

Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar
led by Lesley Ma
Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar led by David Teh

Context-Responsive Art Practice led by Sofia Hernandez-Chong Cuy
Indigeneities and Contemporary Art led by Cosmin Costinas

Queer Filipiniana: Literature led by J. Neil Garcia
Indigeneities and Contemporary Art led by Candice Hopkins
Indigeneities and Contemporary Art led by Anselm Franke

MAY – JUNE 2019

Context-Responsive Art Practice

Seminar led by
Leyla Cardenas

Slicing Lab - a temporal journey through space.

“A cut and a slice is there any question when a cut and a slice are just the same.
A cut and a slice has no particular exchange it has such a strange exception to all that which is different.
A cut and an occasion, a slice and a substitute a single hurry and a circumstance that shows that, all this is so reasonable when everything is clear.”

—Gertrude Stein, What Happened: A Play (1922)

The space is a metaphysical arena of continually intermittent appearances and disappearances. Anselm Kiefer has said that no empty place is really empty: everywhere is filled up, “almost claustrophobically” with all the traces of the past. The past is always there in the present. I am proposing to work with these traces or “ghosts” as raw material.

Understanding the world in a sculptural way is for me to constantly undo what comes as a frozen stable construct. In this workshop, we will be training the eye and senses to see beyond the surface. By undoing and delayering what surrounds us by a clean an informed incision. Introducing a material and conceptual approach to the problem of site. We will move across historical figures and disciplines that also consider the fabric of space-time as material to work with. While doing so slicing clinically through the material presence of the past.

Suggested Reading:

Queer Filipiniana

Seminar by Nick Deocampo

Recalling one hundred years of Philippine cinema means recalling one hundred years of hetero-normative dominance of the Filipino screen. Resulting from this history is a film culture that favors heterosexual representation over other forms of sexual and gender identities. This condition has marginalized films that embrace homosexual desire and identity. This “normal” state of things will be challenged by a three-day workshop where issues on queer subjectivity, representation, and activism will be tackled by the country’s pioneering figure in queer filmmaking. Going beyond aesthetics and filmic practices, the workshop brings Deocampo’s experience in helping formulate the country’s first LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, which protects the LGBTQ community from discrimination. Dealing with both the theory and politics of queer cinema, this workshop offers an empowering opportunity for those wanting to explore their marginal world to find meaning and purpose in their difference.       

The course covers the following topics:

May 18: Finding the “I” of the Eye: Queer Subjectivity in Cinema
Discussion focuses on the construction of subjectivity which defines and animates the works and politics in queer filmmaking. As a way of personally introducing the subject of queer cinema, the discussant reflects on his process of building his gay subjectivity in his films by fighting against a history of patriarchy and social control.      

June 1: The Optics of Queer Representation
Discussion takes up the topic of queer representation in popular and alternative cinemas. Showing excerpts from popular films, both local and foreign, discussant analyzes queer screen representation in semiotic, psychoanalytic and culturalist ways.  

June 8: Beyond Desire: Queer Activism
Discussion goes beyond the screen text and moves into the politics of real action. Discussant reflects on activities that moved the needle in favor of the queer community—from street marches, gay parades, queer publication, activist filmmaking, community building, to policy legislation.     

Suggested Reading:

Context-Responsive Art Practice

Seminar led by Köken Ergun

This seminar will navigate through Ergun's filmmaking practice, unearthing representations of communities that are not known to a greater public and the importance of ritual in such groups. Ergun’s preoccupations are based on forms of contemporary rituals and celebrations, religious or secular, through events such as national holidays, beauty contests, world fairs, and the Olympics. The seminar is addressed to artists and filmmakers inclined toward the importance and role of archives, engagement in artistic research, and collaboration with ethnographers, historians, and sociologists to constitute the current political situations.

Suggested viewing:

Binibining Promised Land (2010)

Memory and Magma: Documents in Eruption

 The Philippine Archipelago is one of the most active sites of volcanic activity. In this workshop, Raqs will take the metaphor of volcanic activity to talk about what happens when art practice enters the domain of memory and reflection.  

Memory and magma work subterraneously; one never knows what will trigger their sudden appearance. Raqs Media Collective's work with documents leads them to discover volatile memories, and to ask what a document is or can be. Sometimes these documents are photographs, at other times they are letters, diary entries, or personal effects. But artistic work with the document can expand its definition to include any object or trace that indexes a reality, affect, thought or sensation. Even the barely legible humming of a song in the voice of a prisoner of war can become a document pointing to a hesitation about the artificial binaries of defeat and victory. 

History and memory, like unstable tectonic plates, collide. Sometimes these collisions cause eruptions. These eruptions may be memories of difficult circumstances and of living within and with unstable social and cultural conditions, or they may simply index the volatile fluctuations that mark everyday life. How can one undertake a seismological investigation of memory? How can one look into the caldera of the volcano of our time and still keep one's feet on the ground? 

Raqs Media Collective's workshop will examine these questions with a view to making artists, curators and all those interested in contemporary art take the temperature of our explosive time.

Suggested Reading:

Context-Responsive Art

Seminar led by
Raqs Media Collective

Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar

Seminar led by James T. Hong

Atrocities, Nationalism, Truth, and Race
Or: The Horror at the Basis of All Good Things

This seminar is an introduction to Hong’s preoccupations, research, and practice. It is a consideration of some of Hong’s work over the years and his particular fixation on Japanese biological warfare in China. Time does not heal all wounds, and those who remember the past are still condemned to repeat it. 

Session 1: A screening of Terra Nullius or: How to be a Nationalist 2015, 79 minutes
(English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Fukien with English subtitles)
(this film screening is free and open to the public)

Following three sets of nationalists from China, Taiwan, and Japan, this documentary focuses on the geopolitical issues surrounding the disputed islands known in Japanese as “Senkaku,” in Chinese as “Diaoyutai” or “Diaoyudao,” and in English as the “Pinnacle Islands.” Claimed by Japan, China, and Taiwan, these minor, remote, and uninhabited islands/rocks (approximately 7 square kilometers) are located roughly 170 kilometers northeast of Taiwan, 330 kilometers east of China, and 170 kilometers northwest of the westernmost tip of the Ryukyu Islands. After WWII, the islands were administered by the U.S. government as part of its occupation of Okinawa. Currently the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands are controlled by Japan, which received administration rights in 1971/1972 from the United States.

Possible discussion topics:
The idea of a nation
The birth of a nation
Art and nationalism

Session 2

A presentation of research and work on the topic of Japanese biological warfare in China and a brief overview of the history of biological warfare in the Twentieth century. Because this issue is fraught with controversy in Japan, we will also briefly address the issue of historical revisionism and historical truth.

Since the advent of “news,” there has been “fake news.” One could argue that the origins of any state are shrouded in myth, untruth, and outright lies. In the last few years I have been focusing on conflicts between competing regimes of truth or incompatible interpretations of history, such as the history conflicts between China and Japan concerning certain events in WWII. Since most eyewitnesses are dead or incapacitated, we in the present can only rely on what we read and learn from official and unofficial histories. The “truth” concerning certain historical events is malleable and frequently manipulated to reflect nationalistic, ethnic, scientific, or other political concerns in the present. I have also realized just how much my American education has shaped my conceptual scheme and prejudices.  

 Possible discussion topics:
What is a war crime?
What is history?
What is historical truth?
Art and Truth

Suggested Readings:



Always a space where mystery and death abound is the tropical jungle in the psychology of the West. This seminar will look at three films, Full Metal Jacket (1987), Platoon (1986) and Apocalypse Now (1979) and their logistics of representation. Importing tropical palms to the banks of the Thames river, rushing in film crews to pristine jungles in Thailand, or getting military clearance to bomb jungles in the Philippines, such strategies go beyond the mere logic of representation but attests rather acutely to Hollywood’s method of creating and destroying the other. Day two of the seminar will focus more on Apocalypse Now and its production in the Philippines, where film director Francis Ford Coppola had to borrow military equipment from President Ferdinand Marcos who in turn eventually took back the props to use in the fight against communist insurgents in Southeast Asia. Saigon-based artist and filmmaker Tuan Andrew Nguyen will explore the complex and fascinating relationships between geography, history, and media.

Day 1 session will include a special film screening of Nguyen’s The Island (2017), 42 minutes. Location TBD. (This film screening is free and open to the public).

Suggested viewing:

  1. Platoon (1986)

  2. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

  3. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Asia Pacific: Visual Histories of War and Postwar

Seminar led by
Tuan Andrew Nguyen