The purpose of the temporary public art display and its programming is to promote the visibility of Filipino artistry and community in New England and beyond.
It advocates increasing awareness of and sharing the Filipino culture with the community to champion camaraderie and cultural understanding. Through public performances and programming, the work seeks to amplify the social impact of arts with the larger goal of transforming the city into a lively and resilient place with the arts at its core.
In addition, the work also raises questions regarding social issues such as racial injustice and anti-Asian-American hate crimes. The public art critiques American imperialism and the occupation of U.S. forces in the Philippines. “The Hiker” memorial statue by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson honors American soldiers who fought Spain, Cuba, the Philippines, and more. However, the statue obscures the imperialistic power of the U.S against Filipinos and the Philippines itself. The United States assumed sovereignty of the Philippines following the defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War, but it was not mentioned to Filipinos that Spain sold the Philippines to the U.S. for 20 million dollars. During the American occupation, at least 200,000 Filipinos lost their lives to famine and disease. The estimates have ranged to as high as a million Filipino civilians. As heroic as the statue might represent, it conveniently covers up the massacre that happened during the Philippine-American War.
The wrapping of The Hiker with the banig is an act of resistance to the traumatic past and painful reminders of American colonization and imperialism. It is a humble act of refusal to continue the discrimination against Filipino, Filipino-Americans, and the whole minority and marginalized communities in general. Binding the statue that glorifies imperialism is to destabilize White supremacy culture and exercise decolonization around memorial statues or monuments. This temporary public art display highlights the role of contemporary artists to raise questions around the shifting roles, meanings, narratives, and validity of memorial statues or monuments.
The public display of banig or traditional Filipino mat commemorates Filipino identity, community, history, artmaking, and labor across the United States. The wrapping of the statue symbolizes the resilience and strength of BIPOC communities, and the retention of their identities, histories, and culture despite colonialist practices.
Organized and directed by Bhen Alan
In Collaboration with Filipino-American Community
Buen Salvmari Orbiso, Jane D'Amour, Mark Chicote, Dave Barquilla, Elsa Soares, Terea Villar Guadette, Nenette Torres, Lourdes Pina, Marina Hennessey, Gloria Degrace, Maricel Santerre, Shirley Valenzuela, Tenn Von Maluski, Sammie Orbiso, Kerr Cirilo, Bryan Basa.