In conjunction with the exhibition Magellan, Marilyn, Mickey & Fr. Dámaso. 500 Years of Conquistador RockStars (29 October 2021 – 6 March 2022), the Museo Reina Sofía organises a film-making workshop centred around colonial geographies and histories and directed by film-makers and artists Kidlat Tahimik (Philippines, 1942) and Sally Gutiérrez Dewar (Spain, 1965).
The workshop explores the colonial relations between Madrid and the Philippines at the end of the 19th century, setting out from a complex pattern of subjects, spaces and events. On one side, it foregrounds the figure of José Rizal (Philippines, 1861–1896), a man of letters and polymath, considered a hero of Philippine Independence, who spent a long period in Madrid and was the author of a distinguished collection of novels in Spanish. And on the other, the gaze returns to certain representative times and places in the Spanish capital: the Palacio de Cristal in the Retiro Park, which hosts the show and is the building conceived for the General Exhibition on the Philippine Islands in 1887; the National Anthropology Museum and its photographic archive, which conserves the largest collection of photographs on Igorot communities — indigenous people from the island of Luzon — and Muslim Filipinos from the island of Jolo, displayed as savages in a kind of human zoo in the aforementioned exhibition; and the Naval Museum, an institution with extensive cartographic and ethnographic heritage on the Philippines. The activity, moreover, combines field work and classroom analysis with the goal of producing a short film piece.
The workshop’s title alludes to the concept of indigenius, coined by Kidlat Tahimik after a mispronunciation of the term indigenous in English by one of his mentors, who unwittingly mixed the word with genius. For Tahimik this slip of the tongue expounds a singular culture based on hybridisation, in that although it is not possible to undo the history of colonisation, there is a need to question westernisation asserting the difference of precolonial culture.
Kidlat Tahimik — regarded as a pioneer in Philippine avant-garde film-making — and Sally Gutiérrez — notable for the coherence of her works on the Philippines — hail from different generations and backgrounds but share common ground with work that develops at the crossroads between essay film, contemporary fiction and critical narratives of colonialism.
Sally Gutiérrez Dewar (Madrid, 1965) is a film-maker and visual artist. Her work sits at the intersections between contemporary art, visual essay and documentary, with references that range from art history, film and gender studies to urban theory, social anthropology, political activism, poetry and literature. After studying at the New School and in the Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York, she now works as a lecturer at the European University of Madrid. Her feature-length films, for instance Tapologo, co-directed with her sister Gabriela Gutiérrez Dewar (2008) and Margen de error. ¿Cómo se escribe occidental? (with the collective Declinación Magnética, 2014), have been screened at different festivals, and in museums and art centres. Ta acorda ba tu el Filipinas? (Do You Remember the Philippines) was donated to the Museo Reina Sofía by Soledad Lorenzo in 2018. Her most recent works most notably include Camino Rizal (2021).
Kidlat Tahimik (Baguio, Philippines, 1942) is a film-maker and visual artist who is widely regarded as a pioneer of Filipino avant-garde film. His work originally and humorously fuses documentary, journal, autobiography, fiction and essay film to set forth a critique on globalisation and the developed world. Born as Eric Oteyza de Guia, he studied Economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and worked for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCDE) until 1968, the point at which he decided to move his life in another direction, changing his name to Kidlat Tahimik (silent lightning). His first film, Perfumed Nightmare (1977), won the FIPRESCI Prize in Berlin and was lauded by Susan Sontag and Francis Ford Coppola, turning it into a classic of international cinema. Retrospectives on his work have been held at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, Berlinale and the Play-Doc Festival, among others.