Hidden and Hiding (Tago ng Tago): Filipino weaving by Bhen Alan

November 3 – December 1, 2022
808 Gallery

Tago ng Tago (always hiding) or TNT is a term coined for Filipinos abroad who are in hiding – from the government authorities or ill-whistlers, due to expired work visas, undocumented status, and overstaying in a country. “TNT immigrants” is an identity given to Filipinos who live unauthorized and have to conceal their immigration status.

Hidden and Hiding reclaims the phrase Tago ng Tago as a state of being and protection to Filipinos and Filipino-Americans across the globe. Artist Bhen Alan explores the theme of protection, the exhibiting works hide and camouflage figures, portraits, signifiers, and cultural codes through weaving, colors, patterns, and assemblage. This strategy protects the images, representation, culture from being trafficked, overly consumed, misrepresented, and exploited.

Alan is employing protection strategies as a way of survival. Looking at the values of TNT immigrants of reconstructing identity and identification for social mobility, survival, and resilience to become visible without being removed from spaces, these values inspired the works to reconstruct the boundaries of weaving and painting and vice versa. It becomes fluid to take different shapes and forms as it camouflages to structures, textures, colors, and patterns.