There are seemingly two narratives in this space. The five thousand bullets were planned months ago to approximate the drug-related extra-judicial killings, with the thought of giving the tally a generous leeway. To date, there are more than 6000 victims, outnumbering the bullets by a thousand. Meanwhile, on the other wall is a single cast of a skirt identical to the Vice-President’s wardrobe. The cast recalls the infamous statement of the President regarding the length of his woman Vice-President’s skirt. To conjure symbolic violence against the very real deaths of thousands of citizens seems itself a form of violence and injustice against the dead. But perhaps it is in this reiteration where one can truly see that violence, in its many forms, is but a Hydra with the same monstrous core.
For every man felled in this war, is a woman/wife/partner who lost her love, home, and dignity. Left alone to fend for their children and living, they have to both seek for help and shield themselves against the perpetrator that is the State. The consumption of symbolic violence in everyday narrations begets violence of other mutations. The women bear the brunt of both status quo and gender prejudice.
In the parade of urgent concerns plaguing our society, the woman debacle is not just a dearth whose value is measured by the length of her skirt. Her narrative is firmly intertwined with that of the war, as can be seen in a projected actual video documentation. It shows how, after a murder of an alleged drug pusher in Catarungan St., Manila—a woman, holding back tears, conscientiously sweeps the blood of her beloved. It is an act not just meant to clean the desecrated home. It is a careful erasure of the carnage, lest the police come back for her and her family.
Where blood has been shed and painstakingly wiped away lies the eye of this political storm—an inertia brought on by infinite pain and silenced rage of the subaltern, obliged to stay and carry the burden of caring for her dead and damned.
Artworks from the Show
Womanhood is Weapon, Nikki Luna, 2017, Cast 45 bullet in ceramic, size variable
Value is measured by the length of her skirt, Nikki Luna, 2017, Cast dress identical to the Vice President's wardrobe, 38¾×22 in
Actual footage from Catarungan Street, Manila, a woman sweeping. Wife of the man., Nikki Luna, 2017, Video (1min 4seconds), 0×0 in