Thursday, December 9, 2010

DikitRato: SURFACING unboxed

from the series Mrs. Tiamzon by Sandino Nartea

Manila, December 10, 2010

To commemorate International Human Rights Day, SURFACING, a photography project on human rights in the Philippines launches Dikit'rato (photo-graffiti or literally, photos pasted on walls), a public exhibit and interactive installation to be mounted in open spaces to call attention to the country's human rights situation. SURFACING portrays the struggles of families of victims of human rights violations related to the state's policy against so-called terrorism. These include enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and political detentions, an alarming and continuing trend on how the state's invisible hand treats political dissent.

13 emerging photographers have, over the course of the past 2 months, documented families willing to tell their harrowing stories of loss, hope and continuing search for their loved ones, and for justice. This has not been an easy task; the families often had to overcome their initial hesitation to "surface" their stories and open up to strangers such as the photographers were at the beginning of the project. The photographers on the other hand, also had to hurdle self-doubt and not a little apprehension in covering such a political issue.

In the end, much needs to be said about the courage and conviction of these families and the participating photographers as well. But we hope that the pictures, more than words, will be able to open our eyes and hearts to these stories. And may we never look away again.

from the series For Land and Justice Ilang-Ilang Quijano

from the series (Dis)Connect Om Narayan Velasco 

from the series James Balao by Angelica Carballo

from the series Vanished Lives/Remembered Moments by BJ PatiƱo

from the series Culture of Impunity by Lady Ann Salem

Andrei Cruz
 Mon Mamaril

from the series Bakwit by Kenneth Roland A. Guda

 Macky Macaspac

Buck Pago

Why exhibit in public spaces?
We want to make these photos visible and accessible to the common Filipino---who comprise the vast majority of victims of these of these human rights abuses, and who therefore, need to be informed the most. By mounting photos in public spaces and by enjoining communities and groups to participate, they are also empowered to act as "curators" in their own neighborhood or setting and not just passive observers and "receivers" of information. Dikit'rato is thus a rethinking of the concept of photographic exhibition--to think out of the box and be unboxed, to liberate the viewing of photographs from the limited confines of a traditional gallery's box. It is also our statement against the intrusion of commercial advertising into public spaces--against the visual pollution of product promotion. Dikit'rato is therefore, also a "reclaiming" of public spaces, which we believe should be the domain of people's art rather than mind-numbing advertisement.

Surfacing's volunteers are rushing to develop a full gallery of the photo-stories. Be sure to check back on this site or add us on facebook for regular updates. We will also make available a selection of the images as a rasterbated pdf file for free download. We highly encourage everyone--individuals, groups and communities to mount their own Dikit-rato wherever YOU may be. Just download the file, cook your own gawgaw and find a wall. For inquiries you may contact us at

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