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Kiri Dalena

Venues: KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 11th Berlin Biennale c/o ExRotaprint

Kiri Dalena

Born 1975 in Manila, PH – lives and works in Manila

Kiri Dalena’s socially engaged practice took a significant turn at the beginning of 2012 with Tungkung Langit, a video work shot while accompanying relief efforts after a devastating hurricane hit a remote village in Iligan, Philippines. With the community’s encouragement, she found herself documenting two survivors, both young children—siblings who had lost their family in the tragedy and were left to cope on their own. Realizing the fragility and vulnerability of her subjects, Dalena found herself reevaluating the filming process to find a more compassionate form of taking part in telling their stories, and she began to join the children in drawing and making art.

In her most recent work, Alunsina (2020), Dalena continues to explore both the possibilities and limits of engagement within a community that is facing trauma. Working closely with human rights organizations, she finds herself documenting the struggles of children and families in an urban settlement severely impacted by the government’s declaration of war on drugs—an ideology that has led to thousands of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug users, and has orphaned hundreds of children. Here, she engages with another family whose child has resorted to drawing pictures to cope with the tragedy, and again confronts the complexities in communicating the violence they have witnessed. Through her accounts of the people’s struggles and the children whose lives are affected, Dalena’s practice continues to expand our notions of artistic production to include a nurturing hand, helping members of the community to find their own expression—particularly the child as subject—and obligating us to turn our attention to their voices and powers of imagination, while in the process, uncovering pain that is both unspeakable and unimaginable.

Cocoy Lumbao

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