Woman of the world

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“Dancing with a Dictator” (2018, carved wood, series of 26). A carved wooden shoe identical to the crystal encrusted shoe Imelda Marcos wore during the inauguration of Ferdinand Marcos as 10th President of the Philippines.

Artist Nikki Luna presents a solo exhibition at the art gallery 1335 Mabini. “This is How to be a Woman of the World” opened on 25 November, just three days prior to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day aims to raise awareness on violence against women and girls and Luna’s work deals with the violence perpetrated against women and girls in the Philippines and beyond.

Feminism — as discourse as well as lived practice — informs her research, advocacy for women rights as well as her artistic practice. Luna’s body of work in this exhibit deals with the systematic violence against and utter disrespect for women and the integrity of their bodies. Her artworks bring to the foreground that the body of women — wives, daughters, sisters — is always already politically charged. In her solo show, Luna subtly unpacks the perpetual rape culture; women are victimized twice: first they are assaulted (and those who have not been assaulted have to live with the threat of assault), and then there is the silence (no support from the legal system, politicians who joke about sexual harassment and assault, etc.). Throughout her life, Luna has been vocal. In her words, the “consumption of symbolic violence in everyday narrations begets violence,” and through her beautiful artworks, she hopes that whispers can accumulate to such a swell that the silence surrounding violence can break.

“Art is a powerful tool,” she says. “Art can tell peoples’ stories, retell history, incorporating the voices from the margins and continue sharing art to engage, provoke action and to promote healing in communities.”

“It never crossed my mind not to speak of the injustice from the thousands of EJKS [extrajudicial killings], rape culture, misogyny under this administration,” she adds. “I will continue to use my art to show the lives of the people wronged by the system.”

Luna (b. 1977) studied visual art at the University of the Philippine, and is currently undertaking her masters in Women and Development Studies at the same university. She recently received the prestigious Chevening Award to conduct a master in Art and Education at Goldsmiths, the University London, UK. In 2018 she authored the book I Love My Body to raise body awareness among girls (the book is published by Power in Her Story). In 2016, she was the recipient of a grant from the Asian Cultural Council. She exhibits her work at home (CCP, Vargas Museum, Lopez Memorial Museum) and abroad (Aichi Triennale, Japan; Singapore Biennale; Beijing Biennale; Le Festival International des textiles Extra Ordinaires, France). In 2015, she was one of the CCP 13 Artist awardees. In 2008, Nikki Luna conducted a residency at the Cooper Union Summer Art Residency in New York. As an activist, she conducts art therapy workshops in conflict zones in the Philippines. “I believe that art is something that you can share. It feeds your soul,” she says.

The exhibition runs until 19 January 2019. 1335 Mabini is at C1B Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City. Call (02) 818-0013 or 0915-4886942. Email roy@1335mabini.com or visit http://www.1335mabini.com.

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