The virtual exhibition Hidden showcases a range of material, bodily, and sensorial artwork and literature that are tied to each other by their varied attempts at concealment. We associate the word “hidden” with bodies or objects that cannot be seen—things out of sight and perhaps out of mind. But each of these works visually or viscerally transmits the sense that there are mysterious presences hidden or in hiding.
These works invite us to tease out the details and structures that have facilitated their concealment. What is purportedly hidden then emerges in plain sight. Collectively, the works in Hidden capture “absent presences.”
During the conceptual stages of Hidden, I was influenced by stories of the undocumented in the United States, and I thought about my own family’s connection to this issue. I grew up abroad, and the knowledge that some family members were “TNT” an acronym for tago ng tago or “undocumented migrants” in the United States was always present in our household. Their stories and their existence were known to all of us, but they remained hidden from society writ large.
Only later did I realize that their presence and visibility in our lives came with tremendous stakes. If caught as undocumented, they could have been detained or deported back to the Philippines. When I read about the undocumented, I think about my relatives and how their lives connect to other bodies, communities, spaces, feelings, and survival strategies.
I hope that Hidden helps to answer questions that continue to linger: What does it mean to be hidden? What forces govern the in/visibility of people or spaces? How do artists and writers conceptualize the spectral, both phantasms and memories?
Curated by Jan Christian Bernabe
Special thanks to my curatorial assistant, intern Tanya Tran
Maraming salamat to all the contributors to Hidden.
Kimberly Arteche, Lek Borja, Marylene Camacho, Carina A. del Rosario, John Yoyogi Fortes, Mik Gaspay, Luisa A. Igloria, Farsad Labbauf, Lin + Lam, Kang Seung Lee, Jessica Lichtenstein, Senalka McDonald, Michelle Peñaloza, Barbra Ramos, Chris Sicat, Jeffrey Augustine Songco, Laura Swanson, Kenneth Tam, Maria Villote
Hidden is made possible through the generous support of donors.