curated exhibition

Hidden

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 
September 2014
 
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.
 

"The Hill" (Installation view)

Kang Seung Lee

2013 Video installation. 15 ft. x 15 ft. x 15 ft. Courtesy of the artist.

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Kang Seung Lee

b. Scorpio
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Kang Seung Lee is a multidisciplinary artist who was born in South Korea and now lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Kang has had solo and group exhibitions at Centro Cultural Border, Mexico City; the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro; and the Museo Casa de Leon Trotzky, Mexico City; among many others. He is currently pursuing an M.F.A. at the California Institute of the Arts.

Recent projects include 12 Selfies (2014), Untitled Needlepoint project (2013), and the Hill (2013).

 

Profile image: "untitled (me as aunt george)" by Kang Seung Lee. 

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  • Born: South Korea
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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"The Making of 'Immaculate Rendition'"

John Yoyogi Fortes

2008 Video Duration: 9m 7s Courtesy of the artist.

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John Yoyogi Fortes

b. 1953
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Born in a taxi on Yoyogi Street in Tokyo, Japan, John Yoyogi Fortes is a Northern California painter based in Sacramento. His paintings are often large scale explorations of self that lean towards the whimsical, dark and obscure.

 
Fortes’s paintings have been exhibited in California, Nevada, Chicago, New York, Hawaii, Venezuela and Norway, and are held in numerous private collections, as well as, the Asian American Art Centre in New York, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and the Triton Museum of Art and Crocker Art Museum in California. His work is included in the International Arts & Artists traveling exhibition, “Infinite Mirror; Images of American Identity.” The exhibit opened at Syracuse University in New York and travels to museums throughout the Eastern U.S.
 
Fortes has received grants from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and a Visual Artist Fellowship from the California Arts Council. In 2004 John was awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. John was also nominated for the Alliance of Artists Communities, Vision from the New California Project in 2006 and 2007.
 
Aside from painting, John produces short web based videos through his business, Digital Boondocks. He has collaborated with the California Association of Museums and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento creating exhibition videos for Bay Area painter, Mel Ramos and Austrian artist, Gottfried Helnwein. Recently John worked with Bay Area artist, Travis Somerville on his Kickstarter campaign to fund Rainbow Warriors, a site specific piece with Earthbound Moon.

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  • Born: Tokyo, Japan
  • Based: Sacramento, CA, USA

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Camouflage I

Marylene Camacho

2011 Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

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Marylene Camacho

b. 1981
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Born in 1981 in the Philippines and immigrating to the United States at the age of twelve, Marylene Camacho is a Los Angeles-based artist who explores issues of war in her practice. Primarily considering the perspective and existential experience of the common combat soldier, her work attempts to build upon the artistic canon established on this subject through such mediums as literature, painting, photography, and cinema. Ms. Camacho posits the universality of war, with the belief that it is essentially an abstract condition in contemporary life. Noting the similarities of previous wars and current ones, in both imagery and written history, she believes that war transcends time and space. Ms. Camacho received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005 from California State University at Long Beach and her Master of Fine Arts in 2011 from the California College of the Arts. She has recently exhibited in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and San Francisco, CA.

My work is a result of my own reflections and ruminations on the subject of war. I started to reconsider my thoughts on this issue after viewing photographs taken by a friend who served as a US Army medic in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My goal is to create a moment during which my work generates questions and prompts self-reflection regarding issues of war and its lingering impact on the human experience and psyche. As an abstract condition in contemporary life, war lends itself to be viewed in multiple ways, because everyone looks at this issue differently. I believe that wars, past and present, have a strange rippling effect that continues to be felt for decades, and sometime centuries, to follow.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Camouflage II

Marylene Camacho

2011 Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

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Marylene Camacho

b. 1981
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Born in 1981 in the Philippines and immigrating to the United States at the age of twelve, Marylene Camacho is a Los Angeles-based artist who explores issues of war in her practice. Primarily considering the perspective and existential experience of the common combat soldier, her work attempts to build upon the artistic canon established on this subject through such mediums as literature, painting, photography, and cinema. Ms. Camacho posits the universality of war, with the belief that it is essentially an abstract condition in contemporary life. Noting the similarities of previous wars and current ones, in both imagery and written history, she believes that war transcends time and space. Ms. Camacho received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005 from California State University at Long Beach and her Master of Fine Arts in 2011 from the California College of the Arts. She has recently exhibited in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and San Francisco, CA.

My work is a result of my own reflections and ruminations on the subject of war. I started to reconsider my thoughts on this issue after viewing photographs taken by a friend who served as a US Army medic in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My goal is to create a moment during which my work generates questions and prompts self-reflection regarding issues of war and its lingering impact on the human experience and psyche. As an abstract condition in contemporary life, war lends itself to be viewed in multiple ways, because everyone looks at this issue differently. I believe that wars, past and present, have a strange rippling effect that continues to be felt for decades, and sometime centuries, to follow.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Camouflage III

Marylene Camacho

2011 Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

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Marylene Camacho

b. 1981
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Born in 1981 in the Philippines and immigrating to the United States at the age of twelve, Marylene Camacho is a Los Angeles-based artist who explores issues of war in her practice. Primarily considering the perspective and existential experience of the common combat soldier, her work attempts to build upon the artistic canon established on this subject through such mediums as literature, painting, photography, and cinema. Ms. Camacho posits the universality of war, with the belief that it is essentially an abstract condition in contemporary life. Noting the similarities of previous wars and current ones, in both imagery and written history, she believes that war transcends time and space. Ms. Camacho received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005 from California State University at Long Beach and her Master of Fine Arts in 2011 from the California College of the Arts. She has recently exhibited in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and San Francisco, CA.

My work is a result of my own reflections and ruminations on the subject of war. I started to reconsider my thoughts on this issue after viewing photographs taken by a friend who served as a US Army medic in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My goal is to create a moment during which my work generates questions and prompts self-reflection regarding issues of war and its lingering impact on the human experience and psyche. As an abstract condition in contemporary life, war lends itself to be viewed in multiple ways, because everyone looks at this issue differently. I believe that wars, past and present, have a strange rippling effect that continues to be felt for decades, and sometime centuries, to follow.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Camouflage IV

Marylene Camacho

2011 Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

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Marylene Camacho

b. 1981
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Born in 1981 in the Philippines and immigrating to the United States at the age of twelve, Marylene Camacho is a Los Angeles-based artist who explores issues of war in her practice. Primarily considering the perspective and existential experience of the common combat soldier, her work attempts to build upon the artistic canon established on this subject through such mediums as literature, painting, photography, and cinema. Ms. Camacho posits the universality of war, with the belief that it is essentially an abstract condition in contemporary life. Noting the similarities of previous wars and current ones, in both imagery and written history, she believes that war transcends time and space. Ms. Camacho received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005 from California State University at Long Beach and her Master of Fine Arts in 2011 from the California College of the Arts. She has recently exhibited in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and San Francisco, CA.

My work is a result of my own reflections and ruminations on the subject of war. I started to reconsider my thoughts on this issue after viewing photographs taken by a friend who served as a US Army medic in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My goal is to create a moment during which my work generates questions and prompts self-reflection regarding issues of war and its lingering impact on the human experience and psyche. As an abstract condition in contemporary life, war lends itself to be viewed in multiple ways, because everyone looks at this issue differently. I believe that wars, past and present, have a strange rippling effect that continues to be felt for decades, and sometime centuries, to follow.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Camouflage V

Marylene Camacho

2011 Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

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Marylene Camacho

b. 1981
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Born in 1981 in the Philippines and immigrating to the United States at the age of twelve, Marylene Camacho is a Los Angeles-based artist who explores issues of war in her practice. Primarily considering the perspective and existential experience of the common combat soldier, her work attempts to build upon the artistic canon established on this subject through such mediums as literature, painting, photography, and cinema. Ms. Camacho posits the universality of war, with the belief that it is essentially an abstract condition in contemporary life. Noting the similarities of previous wars and current ones, in both imagery and written history, she believes that war transcends time and space. Ms. Camacho received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005 from California State University at Long Beach and her Master of Fine Arts in 2011 from the California College of the Arts. She has recently exhibited in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and San Francisco, CA.

My work is a result of my own reflections and ruminations on the subject of war. I started to reconsider my thoughts on this issue after viewing photographs taken by a friend who served as a US Army medic in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My goal is to create a moment during which my work generates questions and prompts self-reflection regarding issues of war and its lingering impact on the human experience and psyche. As an abstract condition in contemporary life, war lends itself to be viewed in multiple ways, because everyone looks at this issue differently. I believe that wars, past and present, have a strange rippling effect that continues to be felt for decades, and sometime centuries, to follow.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Coat (Anti-Self-Portrait)

Laura Swanson

2005 Inkjet print. 20 in. x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Laura Swanson

b. 1978
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Born in Minneapolis, MN, Swanson received her M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2011 and B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008. Her work has been exhibited within the United States at the RISD Museum of Art, Camera Club of New York, and San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, and internationally at Arsenal Institute for Film and Video in Berlin, Germany; Media Arts Gallery in Warsaw, Poland; and in South Korea at the Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art.

Swanson was a National Endowment for the Arts John Renna Art Scholar in 2008-2010, a Jacob K. Javits Fellow in 2010-2011, and received a Wynn Newhouse Award from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation in 2013. Her work is held in collection at the Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art in Jeju, South Korea. She lives and works in New York, NY.

Laura Swanson is an artist examining representation of the body on display, working across various media, including drawing, installation, photography, sculpture, and video. Pulling from multiple sources—personal experience, critical theory, art history, advertising, popular culture, sociology—her visual language is simultaneously playful and serious, simple and intricate, inviting and disruptive. Her work centers around a critical exploration of the behavior of looking at difference: how physical difference is visually depicted and objectified in culture, the consequent behaviors that cause discrimination in everyday life, and the psychological effects of being socially marginalized.

Much of her work questions the dominant cultural bias toward the sameness, size, and symmetry of things, especially people. Swanson often references the seemingly theatrical spectacle of her short statured body situated next to her six-foot-tall husband. Compelled to remove their bodies from objectification, she anthropomorphizes ready-made objects and deconstructs conventional portraiture to simultaneously create an image of solidarity and to examine the desire to look at physical difference. The safe-guarding of individual agency is asserted in a series of self-portraits, where she conceals her identity, and with fantastical dwelling spaces, which provide refuge to read critical theory in pursuit of intellectual liberation.

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  • Born: Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • Based: New York, NY, USA

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Cover

Mik Gaspay

2012 Print. 50 in. x 36 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Mik Gaspay

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Mik Gaspay is an interdisciplinary artist who primarily works with found objects, painting and sculpture. His practice investigates translated meanings of commonplace products and structures: drawing from the tension between functionality, purpose and language he conjures up expressions fused from readymade signification, history and uncertainty. His work queries for meanings embedded in the materials within objects we consume and encompass our lives with.

Mik Gaspay was born in Quezon City, Philippines and migrated to Palo Alto, California at the age of 9. He received a B.F.A. in Illustration/Design from the California College of Arts and Crafts and later attended the California College of the Arts for his M.F.A. He currently lives and works in San Francisco, California.

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  • Born: Quezon City, Philippines
  • Based: San Francisco, CA, USA

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Elephant in the Room

Maria Villote

2009 Oil on reclaimed timber. 36 in. x 30 in. x 21 in. Courtesy of the artist.

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Maria Villote

b. 1984
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Maria Villote was born in Manila, Philippines, 1984. Ten years later, she immigrated to the United States. Villote lived and worked in the Bay Area, where she received a B.A. in Art Practice from University of California, Berkeley. She is one of the co-founders/co-curators of Project: One Night Stand (ONS Projects), an ongoing series of site-specific art exhibits that utilize unexpected and unconventional settings/spaces throughout Ventura County in order to showcase experimental work by local art students and local and established artists.

Maria has shown in 18th Street Arts Center, Jaus Gallery, UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Gallery, University of Hawaii, Hilo's Campus Center Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles' Undergraduate Art Gallery, CSUCI Exhibitions Gallery, The Control Room, Krowswork Gallery, 643 Project Space, Zughaus Gallery, Downtown Center for the Arts in Oxnard, Upfront Gallery and several shows in Oxnard College’s McNish Gallery. She was also a recipient of the 2012-2013 Oxnard Cultural Arts Grant.

 

Photograph by Maria Villote.

I’m interested in the human experience, symbiosis, and the vicissitudes of the interaction between the work and the viewer/consumer. In the construct of a hypereality and the use of metaphors and parallels, I try to seduce my audience, playing on their expectations and assumptions based on their preconceived notions. Through the lure and allure, I pull the viewer in hoping that their experience and understanding of the work will unfold into a dialectic gaze.

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  • Born: Manila, Philippines
  • Based: Oxnard, CA, USA

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