Art exhibit shows many faces of human rights violations

By MARIA ALETA O. NIEVA, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Dec 06 2008 01:32 PM | Updated as of Dec 10 2008 06:30 PM

"All Boxed Up" by Dick Jose Santos

Amid the rampant cases of human rights violations in the country, social realists recently launched an art exhibit in the hope of generating more public awareness regarding cases of rights violations.

Dubbed as "Kahon", the exhibit is a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The exhibit is an expression of outrage by artists from various groups against human rights violations perpetrated by state forces,” the group said.

According to organizers, “kahon” in military parlance, means to cordon off or to identify the boundaries within which a subject under surveillance is confined.

“Majority ng victims kapag sinabing kinahon na ay mahirap nang tumakas doon either huhulihin ka, pwede ka nang mapatay,” explained Jose Luis Burgos, one of the artists participating in the exhibit.

Burgos is one of the sons of the late press freedom fighter Joe Burgos and brother of missing activist Jonas Burgos who disappeared on April 28, 2007.

“Ginamit kay Jonas ang kahon. May sinabi ang isang source sa intelligence na na-kahon na si Burgos noong last year nagamit na ang term na kahon sa case ni Jonas,” Burgos said.

The group said activists who were “kina-kahon” are being killed, abducted, sometimes surfaced in jail with trumped up charges or in most cases, are never seen again.

The numbers of victims of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings continue to increase. Since 2001 up to the present, there are 199 victims of enforced disappearances and 933 victims of extra-judicial killings reported.

The exhibit, the artists said, is the “elimination of the walls surrounding the victim…walls that deprives him of all his rights…removes him not only from the protection of the law but also from people who can help him”.

The exhibit features works from visual artists including Burgos (Checklist) and his older brother Jose III (Closer Than You Think), and friends Vic Dabao (Victim and Toy Gun), Boy Dominguez (Desaparecidos), Iggy Rodriguez (Untitled), Dick Jose Santos (All Boxed Up), Yko Umadhay III (Vertigo) and UGAT Lahi (Soiled).

 "Victim" by Vic Dabao

Many faces

The Jose Luis Burgos’ mixed media work called “Checklist” shows the many faces of people who have disappeared in the previous regimes. He arranged the names of those who have gone missing in alphabetical order.

“Una marami na ang biktima. Kaya niyang punuin ang alphabet. Actually, sobra-sobra pa sa alphabet. Nagdo-doble lang ng letra. Pangalawa, pwedeng ikaw ang next target ng disappearance. So naka-focus ako sa disappearance,” he said.

Aside from mixed media, artists used acrylic and oil paintings and even installation arts to get their message across the public.

For a veteran in the art scene, Dabao describes himself to be an experimentalist trying his hands on almost anything and everything.

Dabao has two works featured in the exhibit. First is the mixed media called “Victim”, and another one is a toy gun “A.K.A. Baby Armalite. The Price: Your Life”.

In the first art work, Dabao explained that even those who carry out orders to kill someone can be called as victims.

"Checklist" by Jose Luis Burgos

“Mismo ang pumapatay victim din. So lahat sila nakakahon. Sumusunod lang sila. Sunod lang ng sunod. Wala siguro silang choice. Ang choice nila maaring sumunod talaga. May sinusundan lang siyang mas mataas sa kanya,” Dabao pointed out.

The toy gun meanwhile portrays the dangers rather than the benefits of having a gun.

“Ginawa yan hindi para makatulong. Pang-disaster talaga. Kasi may mga sukat ang bala na yan kung hanggang saan ang abot--para sa tao,” he said.

According to Santos, who also owns Lunduyan Gallery where the exhibit is being held, some of the art works are on sale.

”Depende sa artists. Usually pag SR (social realism) hindi pambenta pero depende din sa exhibit at sa material na ginamit,” Santos explained.

Lunduyan Gallery is located at 88B Kamuning Road, Quezon City. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday.