Snare For Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive

Saturday, 16 Sep 2023 to Tuesday, 27 Feb 2024

Wilson L Sy Prints and Drawings Gallery, 2F

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Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive is a collaborative research art project of Kiri Dalena, Lizza May David, and Jaclyn Reyes that inquire into the tangents of the country’s colonial past, archiving, and its impacts on being Filipina. Distinct in their own practice , each artist negotiates their own and the current generation’s positions against an imperial past and present as women residing in the Philippines, Germany, and the United States. This three part series, curated by Marika Constantino and Iris Ferrer, was first mounted at The Panublion Museum (Roxas City, Capiz), then at the Alfredo F. Tadiar Library (San Fernando, La Union) with the final iteration opening at the Ateneo Art Gallery this September 16, 2023, Saturday with an Artists’ talk.

IMG_20230805_123526.jpg#asset:3994Installation shots of Snare for Birds: Passages through the Colonial Archive at Ang Panublion Museum, Roxas City, Capiz. Photo by Aina Shane Martinez.

The project builds upon the deeply embedded imagery and knowledge of Dean Worcester; whose photos were eventually bought by German merchant Georg Küppers-Loosen and is part of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum’s archive in Cologne, Germany. Worcester, an ornithologist and Secretary of Interior of the Philippine Islands during the American colonial period, was known for his book The Philippine Islands and their People. Worcester’s views shaped US public opinion, foreign policy, and inevitably what we know to be Filipino history and identity.

Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive challenges these deeply embedded imagery by reciprocating Worcester’s endeavor: to engage with archival images like specimens and to claim truths a camera was “made to tell.” It encourages viewers to question the colonial gaze, the accessibility of these historical records, and the ways in which our responses to these images shape how we engage with our predecessors. Finally, it asks what these images imply and reveal about Filipinos today considering that these have historically been used as evidence of Filipinos’ incapability of self-governance.

DSC01237.JPG#asset:3997Workshop photos of "Snare for Birds: Decolonizing Perspectives of the Colonial Archive" at Alfredo F. Tadiar Library, San Fernando, La Union. Photos by JJ Buenaventura.

Since the collaboration began in 2020, Dalena, David, and Reyes have paved their own paths of inquiries while converging through thought partnership as seen on their website (https://www.snareforbirds.com). This act of working together in itself has become its own decolonizing ritual, as they intentionally interrupt the disembodiment of the global Filipino diaspora through piecing together parts of fragmented histories and solidarities.

The final iteration of the project to be mounted at the Ateneo Art Gallery is seen neither as a conclusion nor culmination of the research; rather, it is perceived to be a preamble for more avenues of conversations to ensue. Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive is a look at our collective history in order to deal with the present with hopes of forging a just and equitable future. The colonial past, though riddled with pain and adversity, requires persistent disruptions not only to dislocate power structures but to also re-define what is known to be truths.

Snare for Birds: Rereading the Colonial Archive is mounted with support from the Goethe-Institut Manila, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, co-presented with The Panublion Museum (Roxas City, Capiz), Alfredo F. Tadiar Library and Puón (San Fernando, La Union). The exhibition is on-view from 16 September 2023 – 24 February 2024 at the Wilson L Sy Prints and Drawings Gallery, 2F Ateneo Art Gallery, Soledad V Pangilinan Arts Wing, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University. For more information, visit ateneoartgallery.com or email aag@ateneo.edu.

Text originally from a proposal by Jaclyn Reyes


KIRI DALENA is a visual artist and filmmaker known internationally for her works that lay bare the social inequalities and injustices that continue to persist, particularly in the Philippines. Her active involvement in the mass struggle to uphold human rights amidst state persecution is the foundation for her art practice that underscores the relevance of protest and civil disobedience in contemporary society. Kiri Dalena works both as an individual artist and as part of collectives (Southern Tagalog Exposure 2001-2008, Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings, 2016-Present). She studied Human Ecology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and creative documentary filmmaking at the Mowelfund Film Institute in Quezon City. She is a member of the National Council of the human rights organization KARAPATAN and is a board member of the non-profit alternative media organization, PinoyMedia Center.

LIZZA MAY DAVID lives and works in Berlin and studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Nuremberg, the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon (France) and at the Universität der Künste Berlin. She is interested in gaps and silences in personal and collective archives and experiments with forms of activation or disturbance through abstract painting. She navigates through affects and moments that elude representability, leading to experimental approaches for the very same reason. She does not assume the existing binary simplifications of the world, but rather thinks relationally in crossroads, turning points, overlapping and branching out, finding further expression in collaborations, architectural interventions or installations.

JACLYN REYES is a visual, performing and teaching artist, designer, cultural organizer and emerging scholar based in New York City. She has done work for the International Rescue Committee, the United Nations, Penguin Random House, Condé Nast, and the US State Department. She engages in social practice, creative place-keeping, and civic engagement interventions with Little Manila Queens Bayanihan Arts, awarding her opportunities from The Laundromat Project, The Monument Lab, En Foco, Inc., Wave Farm, New York State Council on the Arts, Queens Council on the Arts, and the Asian Women Giving Circle. She has worked with numerous transnational Filipino organizations including the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and Philippines-based groups Citizens Disaster Response Center and the Liyang Network, support humanitarian efforts with vulnerable communities impacted by climate disaster. She received her BFA in Photography and earned her master’s degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Welfare at CUNY Graduate Center, where she is studying diaspora engagement in transnational care systems.


IRIS FERRER is an independent cultural practitioner from Manila, Philippines. She was recently part of the 2019-2020 de Appel Curatorial Program and was the 2020-2021 de Appel Curatorial Research Fellow. She has worked with the Dutch National Collection through the Hartwig Art Foundation Special Projects, as well as the 17th Istanbul Biennale through the participation of Green Papaya Art Projects. She functions as a writer, researcher, project manager and curator across the field of contemporary visual arts and alongside Philippine and regional-based platforms and collaborators.

MARIKA CONSTANTINO is an artist, cultural worker and independent curator who has participated in significant exhibitions, events and projects in the Philippines and abroad. Her works and projects are centered on patterns, layers, textures, and materials, and its intersection with history, memory and culture. In 2017, she was selected to be one of the Global Cultural Fellows of the Institute of International Cultural Relations at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. That same year she was supported by the British Council, Manila to participate in a cultural leadership program at the King’s College in London, United Kingdom. She was awarded the New York Fellowship for 2018-2109 by the Asian Cultural Council. In February 2020, Constantino established KANTINA, an art space for co-learning and co-creation. She is currently based in both Manila and Roxas City, Capiz in the Philippines.