Kiri Dalena: Mag-uuma (Farmer)

Mag-uuma_Video Still

Kiri Dalena, Mag-uuma (Farmer), 2014, 2.06 mins. Selected by MCAD, Manila.

28 September 2021 – 23 January 2022

In Kiri Dalena‘s (b. 1975, Philippines) Mag-uuma (Farmer) (2014), a young woman sings a ballad in which she laments a history of exploitation and poverty that has afflicted her rural community in a region of commercial plantations and mineral reserves.

Artist Q&A

Portrait of Kiri Dalena. Photo: Kimberly dela Cruz.

Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?

I am based in Metro Manila now, but for some time I have been based outside of the city. I first became interested in moving image work when I was still a student in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and I was slowly finding my way into the larger world. With the camera, I did not feel lost and felt that I had a center when I was framing and recording what was happening around me.

What inspired/influenced you to make the work?

I have worked as a human rights volunteer, and what is normally expected of me in peasant communities is to document incidents of human rights abuses. These are often in the form of interviews and testimonies about specific incidents, quantifiable and useful in paralegal work. Songs such as Mag-uuma do not serve this same purpose, but I am inspired to make them because they can hold something more, they can awaken something that I thought was impossible or rather, intangible, like hope.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am a resident artist for a museum project on American Colonial photography. The work is online and process is online so I am adjusting to the remote and the non-tactile format. I am also invited to work on a video about “empathy.” I am also active in the human rights movement here in the Philippines. I contribute for video, photography, research and recently even making pins. That one is a lot of work, especially now, with our present government.

Kiri Dalena (b. 1975, Philippines) is a Filipino visual artist and filmmaker whose body of work confronts the underlying social conflicts in contemporary Philippine society. Articulating certain realities of injustice and inequality, Dalena’s deep understanding of the mass struggle greatly influences her artistic practice, depicting forms and histories of civil resistance. Her works assert the importance of protest and activism against state persecution. She participated in Berlin Biennale 11: The Crack Begins Within, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, ExRotaprint (2020); JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017, Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem, Jakarta (2017); and Singapore Biennale: If the World Changed, Singapore Art Museum (2013).