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

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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.

Artist Bhen Alan weaving. Rhode Island School of Design

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.

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Gallery assistant and exhibition curator Rosa Jang (GRS’24) organized Alan’s work into four themes: camouflage, shape-shift, protect, and meditate. Cydney Scott

Alan’s works evoke his identity and his history as a Filipino immigrant. To him, yellow is the color of heartbreak: it was the color of the sky on the day his mother left the Philippines to work overseas as a nanny. Cydney Scott

Take a Virtual Tour!

Whether you’ve visited 808 Gallery or want to experience Hidden and Hiding (Tago ng Tago) from afar, you can get an inside look into the exhibition at bu.edu/art/hidden-and-hiding-tago-ng-tago-filipino-weaving-by-bhen-alan.

Virtual tour of Hidden and Hiding

A Narrative about the Filipino Immigrant Experience at the 808 Gallery

In Hidden and Hiding (Tago ng Tago), artist Bhen Alan reimagines a traditional weaving practice using unconventional materials.

Tago ng tago means ‘always hiding’—it [refers] to Filipino immigrants working abroad who chose to stay to make more money to support their families in spite of not being authorized,” Alan says. “It’s about hiding your identity from adversity, but also cementing yourself in a space that you cannot be removed from, in order for you to support your family and yourself.”

“I feel like I’m coming back into my authentic, Filipino self,” he says. “I’m not hiding anymore.”

Read more in BU Today

Info & Credits

Photos by Cydney Scott

Hidden and Hiding (Tago ng Tago): Filipino Weaving by Bhen Alan was on view at Boston University Art Galleries' 808 Gallery, 808 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, November 1 - December 3, 2022

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