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Observer's Journal - Albert GARCIA

As an observer, I had chosen two groups to observe - Taiwan A group and the Philippines group. In my observation, instead of trying to archive the happenings of the corresponding artists, I had decided to use an alternative to describe my observation.

By sitting in conversations with the artists and their facilitators and experiencing their research materials, I was experimenting and challenging with the term observation at the same time.

“You are observed with interest but you do not observe with interest – if you do, you will become less enviable”

Excerpt From: John Berger. Ways of Seeing

My first observation started with both artists YANG Zhi Xiang and CHIEN Shih Han where they began the night by sharing their progress on their findings during the past five weeks of residency Connect with South East Asia 2.0. They started with the line “things, feel good by good...”

During their discussion, the room was filled with a sudden heavy cloud that held the question a facilitator constantly asks the artist:

“What is the core of your findings during this five-week residency and how are you going to showcase these findings during the performance?”

It then continued with discussions on what was important for them during this process from live streams, manicures, moulding clay, breastplates, visiting drag shows and bars. All of these made them feel good. When I asked them how did they come up with this duo, both of their answers revolved around the interest within drag. YANG Zhi Xiang was attracted by drag. He had always been interested in the embodiment of becoming drag. CHIEN Shih Han, the doer, used the art of drag as a way to gain commodity. Objects for them expressed a certain performativity. That somehow performed to us and gave us the feels. CHIEN Shih Han questioned what was making a dialogue. For him, doing drag didn’t start a dialogue, instead it started a dialogue for others.

For both artists, they were interested in investigating pleasures corresponding to objects that had become intimate to us and how did this element communicate or perform to us visually, physically or emotionally.

Observers extensions:

Jodinand AGUILLON and Jared Jonathan LUNA of the Philippines presented such a nostalgic work that reflected a common Filipino household. The telenovela style mixed with the 90s filters brought a form of reclamation of what the Philippines pop culture represented. Jodinand AGUILLON, a folk dancer, became the entry point himself to explore his own identity and the queering of folk dance. Folk dance for him was not the coolest thing, it had a clear role for both the male and the female parts. Often in folk dance, seniors would demand male dancers to "dance like a man". For him, this was an opportunity to fulfill his fantasy of playing with both male and female roles in this residency.

Jared Jonathan LUNA was interested in textures of body sensations, how the quality of objects and the quality of the body and how hardness and softness as qualities was performed within the body sensations. Jared Jonathan LUNA, a hip hop dancer and street dancers, shared with us how these dance formed using textures to describe certain movement sensations. He also suggested how textures like hardness and softness gave a deliberate action when performing.

Toy Luck Club started by taking the audience into a time machine where the artists centered around the concepts of folk dances, girly toys and a takeover on their individual practice in folk dance and vogueing. Playing toys gave certain personal secrecy and they played around how these toys shaped who they are today. At the first moment, both dancers used toys to create the rhythm of tinkling. Dancers hopping around sticks gave them a type of sneaking feeling. They babe, with dance forms of maglalatik and voguing, explored the idea of gender explorations and showed how dancers were being educated in different norms. There were moments that showed a very performative form of homo-eroticness. In this Filipino folk dance, we saw them pounding each other with coconuts. Kahit Maputi na ang Kinemerut Ko was Maria Clara. They decolonized by queering and decentering practices of Maria Clara. The form was always presented by a heterosexual couple. Queering the existing dance in the country, they created their own form of pop culture from the marginal part of the Philippines society.

Both artists had their own process and their own individual dance practices. It was important to reclaim their personal narratives.

Queerness in relation to their dances has become their common target and the exploration of ideas as a Filipino dancer.

Observer’s extensions:

After reading journals from the Philippines group, they have provided us with playlist “baklang pinoy formation”

To my surprise, Spotify has "suggested" additional songs that they thought should be in the playlist as well.

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