Casa Vicens Gaudí is hosting the first solo exhibition of Filipina artist Nikki Luna in Barcelona
· The artist defends the role of the women who perform invisible work in today’s society, starting from a personal standpoint: the women in her own family
Today, Gaudí’s first house is inaugurating an exhibition giving a roots-up presentation of the Philippine community, thanks to Nikki Luna’s conceptual works of art, which invite us to take a look at the Philippines’ multi-faceted culture through the eyes of a Filipina woman. It is time to ask ourselves what image we have of the Republic of the Philippines, that archipelago of more than seven thousand islands and more than 100 million inhabitants which, in full expansion, still presents great social challenges. For this exhibition, Nikki Luna draws from her ancestral roots in Batangas, one of the eight provinces that rebelled against Spanish colonization in the mid-19th century.
From January 20 to June 26, 2022, Casa Vicens is hosting the “Guerra” exhibition in its temporary exhibition hall, a project consisting of four installations that reference the artist’s family but send out a universal message. The exhibition takes its name from the first piece: a brooch-logo with the word ‘Guerra’ written in Nikki’s mother’s handwriting, made with pearls from the Philippines and gold. It is exhibited as if it were a jewellery shop logo, an element of aspirational value, a luxury item made of precious materials. However, it refers to a very different luxury, to the invaluable power of achieving economic self-sufficiency despite bureaucracy and the lack of laws in favour of women. For Nikki, the word ‘Guerra’ represents that value, that women’s struggle. This word, her mother’s and aunts’ maiden name, translates into “war” in English and is a word that contains an untold matriarchal story.
The exhibition is a journey through all the women of Nikki’s family, starting with the memory of her great-grandmother wearing a gikin (wound cloth) on her head, upon which she transported the goods she harvested in her yard to the nearest village. This piece is called “Wound Cloth”, an installation of 15 porcelain and gold sculptures that refers to the balance that women have had to achieve, bearing heavy loads on their heads both physically and mentally with work, motherhood, home upkeep… The use of the materials in this work is not incidental. Exquisite porcelain and gold that could conjure up rulers and royalty, but that she uses to stress the power of women, true anonymous leaders who are unpaid or underpaid.
After her great-grandmother, eight women have marked the artist’s life: her mother and her aunts. Eight women, of whom three stayed in the Republic of the Philippines as housewives and five sought work abroad to help their family. Like her great-grandmother, they did a balancing act between precariousness and the willingness to work hard for their families outside their country. These eight women are represented in the “Steely Bloom” installation: eight steel plates polished to a mirror finish that harken to the bolo (a typical knife of the Philippines, used in both the kitchen and on the battlefield). Eight leaves arranged in the shape of a flower, representing the silent struggle of these women who combine uninterrupted care of others with the unattended need for self-care; the invisible women’s work that becomes intermingled with the domestic violence inflicted inside and outside the home. Worn-out bodies, cysts, ovarian cancers, and cataracts have been the result of this transaction.
The last installation, “Labor Landscape”, physically represents dejection by means of eight pieces of silk with which these eight women have dried their sweat and tears, bodily fluids that shape physical maps in witness to the bodily struggles of these real women.
Guided visits to the exhibition have been organized by the artist, Nikki Luna. The visits will be given in English and will have simultaneous translation into Catalan and Spanish. After the guided tour you can visit the Casa Vicens with an audio guide.
The days of the guided visits will be: February 12 (12:00 p.m.), March 5 (12:00 p.m.), April 2 (12:00 p.m.), May 7 (6:00 p.m.) and June 4 (6:00 p.m.).