Popularly characterised as examples of Third Cinema, Kidlat Tahimik’s artistic experiments hone an approach to storytelling that does not require a singular time or end. His essays (told via film, performance and sculpture) are based on critical yet deeply respectful relationships with the Cordilleran indigenous community of the Philippines—as father, husband, friend and mentor. His art confronts stereotypical socio-political structures that involve the cultural conditioning of popular taste, attitude and behaviour.
Ang Ma-bagyong Sabungan ng 2 Bathala ng Hangin, A Stormy Clash Between 2 Goddesses of the Winds (WW III – the Protracted Kultur War) (2019)—the first major sculptural presentation of such scale in a gallery context by the artist—examines a culture of consumption that has long overlooked local life and know-how in favour of Hollywood glamour and spectacle (the latest manifestations of Western colonialism and its values). In Tahimik’s SB14 presentation, the legendary Ifugao character Inhabian is anointed Ifugao Goddess of Winds, traditionally invoked by indigenous communities seeking protection from typhoons. Here Inhabian stands guard against the incoming tsunami-wave of all things American in the form of Marilyn M. This sculptural installation’s sheer breadth of subject matter reflects Tahimik’s commitment to the interdependent diversity of human production and habitat—the kapwa orientation [my self is in the other]—and its worrisome disavowal in a society hoodwinked by modern (presumed) necessity, which has resulted in countless acts of repression, pain and violence. This concern is also taken up in the idea of Bathala Na [leave the final outcome to the Cosmos], an ethos privileging improvisational skill and an inherent ability to cope with constant change and a near-antithetical attitude to today’s perception of ‘seismic change’ viewed through the lens of technological innovation.