In The Years 1886 and 2017”

Stephanie Comilang

June 10–July 29, 2017

Sunburned flesh
We enter a new space
I clip into the vestibule and right away
I am ash baked
These storybook villas still dream behind shutters
Their balconies fine as hand- made lace
I am the colour of burnt pineapple, lemon, mango

Yesterday, In The Years 1886 and 2017 is a two-channel video projection installation. The two protagonists José Rizal and Lourdes Lareza Müller occupy a channel each; projected adjacent to one another, they inhabit the same space while remaining distinctly separate. José Rizal (1861-1896) was a Filipino nationalist, considered a national hero for his advocacy and thinking that led to the Philippine revolution against Spanish rule. While he worked as an ophthalmologist he was well known for his literary works. While living in Berlin he completed his book Noli Me Tángere (Touch Me Not) in 1887, a book that many have credited for its proposition of nationalism and resistance to Spanish colonial rule through its formulation of the idea of an ‘imagined community’ in the Philippines. Lourdes Lareza Müller is the other protagonist in Yesterday, In The Years 1886 and 2017. Having migrated to Germany in 1968, she worked as an archivist at one of Europe’s largest libraries, Berlin’s Staatsbibliotek, for 28 years.

The thread that ties these two figures is their chosen life in Berlin, away from the Philippines. The disembodied feminine voice remains unidentified throughout but narrates from a distant future. She hovers and is distinctly non-human and speaks of inhabiting both Rizal and Lareza Müller in human form. Positioned as a third protagonist, she speaks of a connectedness through adaptation, bodies as archives, and entangled narratives of possible futurities. While this film speaks to a specific place, particular people, the role of the disembodied narrator, casts a wider net of questions around mobility, a rearrangement of geographic concepts of centre/periphery, and the disruption of historical linearity and continuity.

Music by
NaEE RoBErts and Elysia Crampton

Artspeak is a non-profit artist run centre established in 1986. The mandate of the gallery is to encourage a dialogue between visual art and writing. Artspeak actively contributes to cultural communities through our commitment to artists producing challenging, innovative work in diverse media, our affiliation with other organizations, and the public interest we generate in contemporary art.

Tuesday–Saturday, 12–5pm
We will be closed Saturday, July 1st.