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Cian Dayrit

Venue: Gropius Bau

Cian Dayrit

Born 1989 in Manila, PH – lives and works in Rizal, PH

“What makes a Filipino soldier? Who do they really serve?” These are questions artist Cian Dayrit poses in his counter-mapping practices and textile work, which explore the genealogy of militarization in the Philippines. Dayrit threads critical annotations and talismanic diagrams, tapping into the spiritual and revolutionary imagery of the anting-anting, a kind of Filipino folk amulet, while exposing the imperial legacy of the “white savior” and the martial tactics used to turn native soldiers against their own people.

In Anatomy of Aggression I and II (2020), Dayrit embroiders photographs taken by a US soldier in the early 1900s, a testimony of the US military infiltration into the Cordillera region that had been a stronghold of resistance during Spanish colonial rule. The US policy of “benevolent assimilation,” which brought in teachers and canned food together with military bases, prepared the ground for US tutelage, which lasted until 1946 but still shapes the current regime. The work traces the chain of command through a woven network, from the paramilitary and foot soldiers to the generals of the armed forces and their commander-in-chief, the president himself. It also shows their ties to US and Chinese imperial powers through corporate interests, and their complex interweaving with the country’s anti-terror and land-grabbing tactics, as well as with the business and landowning elites.

The large piece Tropical Terror Tapestry (2020) consists of a dense infographic quilted map that includes the current regime’s military enclaves and a topological overview of different counterinsurgency programs—technologies of state terrorism presently being waged against the “internal enemy,” the Filipino people. Embroidered side-panels depict diverse methods of militarism being used in these campaigns, as well as military camps, red-tagging of activists, forced displacement, and air raids against peasant and Indigenous communities—operations that have intensified during the Covid-19 crisis. For Dayrit, such topographical threadings are tools in themselves, anting-anting weapons of everyday artistry for self-education and resistance.

María Berríos

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