Basketball remains one of the most significant hangovers from the Philippines colonial past and an omnipresent visual reminder of the nation’s forged contemporary identify.
Whilst the construction of the basketball court remains a captivating subject, the court (irrespective of its infrastructure) is also a hallmark of resistance by everyday Filipinos in the battle for public space.
The Philippines is being urbanised at an alarming rate with a handful of wealthy families and oligarchs staking claim on public space. Gated communities, mega shopping malls and even park spaces are largely privately owned with restricted access and monitored behavior.
The local basketball court stands as a staunch counterpoint to the privatisation of the land and remains firmly in the hands of the everyday Filipino, even if it’s very existence can be fleeting and constantly under threat.
This series culminated in a book and exhibition in 2017. The first print run is now sold out.
Quiet and reflective, this ongoing series highlights obscure scenes that are held together with underlying tension.
The fragility of the natural world, urban anxieties and banal acts of human development are all laid bare in an empty void of stark loneliness and biting dark humour.
There’s a folklore tale in the Philippines that over a dozen people have died in the past directly as a result of singing Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ in videoke bars. Everytime I ask someone to explain why I get a mixed response. The most common perception is that it’s the hardest song to sing and the killings stemmed from discontent that the song wasn’t being performed to the standard that it deserved. The amount of deaths and the reasoning are a little blurry. Like a juicy gossip column overflowing with celebrity news. What is known, is that the fear of trouble erupting from singing My Way has been enough to scare many videoke owners to withdraw the hit from the song list.
There is no fear of death for Elvis performance artists in Manila belting out a cover of the old ‘Blue Eyes’ number. I should know; My neighbour is one of the star performers and I guessed his obsession long before I saw him don a bedazzled white jump suit. A night celebrating the life of 'The King' is the perfect cocktail combining Filipinos love for rock n roll & power ballad singing, celebrity culture and a nod to their American colonial past. The cast is made up of locals, foreigners living in the Philippines and international performers flown in for specific events. Every Elvis has his own shtick, costumes, moves and varying levels of Memphis accent. Local performers range from young hot shot Bam Angping dubbed 'Teenage Elvis Sensation' up to Chito Bertol, President of the Elvis Friendship club of Philippines and considered 'The Original Elvis of the Philippines', he has been performing Elvis songs for over 60 years.
The intersection between chaos and silence.
Under the dark cloud of Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, life goes on for the hundreds of families who live in the Manila South Cemetery. Many of the inhabitants are attracted to the economy of the burial grounds providing them with regular work maintaining grave sites and servicing the needs of the daily visitors. For others, the decision to live among the dead if buoyed on by a safer sense of security when compared to the outside world. Despite corruption among officials and the lack of electricity and running water, some families have called the cemetery home for over four decades.
Manila 2015 - 2017