Kiri Dalena And Our Disordered State of Affairs

Events seem to conspire to continue weaving a thread through Kiri Dalena’s works.  In her piece for the show Keeping The Faith, exhibited at the Lopez Museum in late 2008, and for which she won the 2009 Ateneo Art Awards, she recreated a student uprising of the early 1970s.  At the foot of a barricade made from school desks, she displayed two figures lying curled up on their sides, their arms shielding their heads to protect themselves.  This work was Kiri’s response to the voluminous material in the museum’s collection documenting the disappearances of activists during Martial Law.  She cast the two figures in unfired clay, and by the end of the show’s run, they had disintegrated into disjointed parts;  just two more nameless victims of political violence.                       

In October 2009, Kiri resurrected these two figures for the Sungduan exhibit at the National Museum.  For Found Figures In Stones Translated by Pakil Carvers, she sought out wood carvers from her family’s Laguna hometown.  They recreated her cowering forms from the original clay remains. The parts come together like a Lego toy, mimicking the displaced state that they had been “found” after the Lopez Museum show.

This month, Kiri revives these figures once more.

The Present Disorder Is The Order of the Future, Kiri’s current show at MOs Space in Bonifacio High Street, gives us a haunting multi-media commentary on the state of the nation.  Also an activist and a noted documentary filmmaker, she addresses atrocities, acts of injustice, and political issues that have continued to plague us through various regime changes.

On the gallery’s far wall, Kiri mounts 24 marble slabs.  She lines them up in a grid, like lapidas in an ossuary.  Each slab is engraved with documented protest slogans and placard texts that she has encountered in the course of her political involvement.  They range from the humorously frustrated (Patay Na Kami Wala Pang Nangyayari) to the scathing (Once A Tuta Always A Tuta).

On the gallery’s concrete floor, Kiri scatters the dismembered chunks of her two figures, the wooden bits from her Sungduan piece and newly-cast replicas in marble.  Projected from above are outtakes from two of  her documentaries,  one on the  Ampatuan Massacre and another on the violent dispersion of informal settlers.  The films emit eerie, kinetic shadows on the scattered fragments, and provides the show’s sole source of light.

Kiri does not seem to refer to any particular incident in this piece.  But with body parts strewn across the floor, the horrific massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao does come to mind. Or  the detritus of  a site suddenly evicted of its residents.  That she does not point to any specific event actually makes her message more sobering.  Nefariousness has become so commonplace that we can attach it as a tag to any number of occurences.  And this being an election year, a presidential election that already seems full of controversies, it seems almost a certainty that Kiri’s figures, in some form or another, will turn up again.

The Present Disorder Is The Order Of The Future runs from 30 January to 7 March 2010 at MOs Space, 3F MOs Design Building, B2 Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City.  Phone (632) 856-2748 or visit


2 Responses to Kiri Dalena And Our Disordered State of Affairs

  1. I found your blog post while searching Google. Very informative, especially since this is not an issue a lot of people are familiar with…

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by fahmi_fadzil, ARTERI. ARTERI said: Check out artist/filmmaker Kiri Dalena new work! Her haunting installation represent the best of art + politics in SEA […]

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