In the three-work exhibition “Violence Need Not Be Bloody For It To Be Validated As Such” at the Finale Art File, artist Nikki Luna attempts to find another layer of discussion on feminism — a topic she has special eye and heart on — in juxtaposition to the political backdrop the country is currently running in.
Nikki Luna is known for her inclination to tackle feminine and political issues in the Philippines, and she attributes this political awakening with her stay at the University of the Philippines. Her endeavors in understand, promote and educate, which are not only limited to her artistic works, can be traced far back during her immersions and interactions with urban and rural communities.
In the artist’s attempt to marry the issues of rampant and extrajudicial violence attributed to the government’s war on drugs, and the still ensuing, although by the sidelines, issue of violence against women, Nikki Luna used the reference of the actual bullet from one of the shoot-outs that had happened recently to form the statement “womanhood is weapon”. The artist wanted to assert literally, yet powerfully, that being a woman is no weakness. She stressed, however, that this battle cry, which is also a part of her bio, is not to reinforce the misconstrued interpretation of feminism as a “battle of the sexes”, but an uplifting reminder for women of their value as humans, equal to men. Womanhood is not a weapon against men; it is a weapon against the system facilitating the inequality.
Such uplifting message is necessary in the still patriarchal society where the exhibition is situated. Women are still enclosed within the bounds of biased perception of domesticity, passiveness, and servitude, not only be men but sadly, also by themselves. This groundedness and rootedness to this cancerous tendency may perhaps be the reason why the artist opted to unconventionally project from top to the ground a footage of a wife sweeping the blood of her husband, allegedly a victim of the extrajudicial killings in the capital city.
The third work, a cast of the dress identical to the wardrobe of Vice President Leni Robredo, provides additional dimension to the discussion, as it presents the depth of the issue on gender inequality. Quite recently, during one of the Cabinet meetings prior the resignation of the vice president, the president with several male cabinet members teased the highest-ranking woman official about the length of her skirt. The facts that the gesture seemed normal, “for fun” and far from serious to some, and it was pointed towards an accomplished and supposedly-powerful woman leads to the root of the problem that Nikki Luna has been exposing and criticizing in her works.
The plurality of interpretation of the concept, symbols and style used by the artist, which were brought up during her conversation with art writer-curator Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez, was recognized; however, the method of utilizing hot and breaking issues as platforms to bring closer to the general audience a usually unnoticeable issue, which has permeated in the psyche of the society, is a notable approach to proceed in this rally for equality, and is something to laud for.
The exhibition runs from the 13th of January to the 9th of February 2017, at the Finale Art File in La Fuerza Compound, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City.