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National Artist Kidlat Tahimik retells Philippine history in Madrid

By Patricia Avila
November 29, 2021

Inside the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid’s Retiro Park, National Artist Kidlat Tahimik has assembled what he considers his swan song.

Tahimik’s installation, “Magellan, Marilyn, Mickey & Fr. Dámaso: 500 Years of Conquistador RockStars,” is a massive, multi-layer sculptural narrative of the Philippines’ history and present, told through the lens of a native. 

A deep look into the sequence of events that paint the story of the Philippines, the installation provokes thought on culture and colonialism. 

Starting with the arrival of Magellan in “Ring 1: 1521,” Tahimik takes creative license on the big showdown between the natives and conquistadors, with Lapu-Lapu’s wife, Bulakna, striking a blow to Magellan’s figure right where the armor doesn’t cover—the groin. In “Ring 2: Kultur Wars,” foreign icons find resistance to colonialism from Inhabian, Goddess of the Wind of Ifugao, and other Wind Gods. 

In an interesting juxtaposition, “Ring 3: 1887 Expo of Igorrotes Gives Kultur-Shock to Rizal” touches on the 1887 Exposición de las Islas Filipinas held in the very place Tahimik shows his work. In history and in the installation, Rizal puts pen to paper to express his thoughts.

The final ring, “Spiritual Ring 4: Trompe-L’Oeil,” features indigenous gods, circling the installation on a dap-ay. Tahimik describes it as how “the gods are watching, amused” yet knowing that their people will fight back against the colonizers, successfully preserving and celebrating their culture.

“Magellan, Marilyn, Mickey & Fr. Dámaso: 500 Years of Conquistador RockStars” will be on display until March 6, 2022.

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