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Cian Dayrit

Cian is a multimedia artist based in Manila. He acquired a B.F.A at the University of the Philippines Diliman College of the Fine Arts, Manila. His material is informed by the Philippines experience of colonialism and ethnography and his work reflects his interests in archaeology, history, and politics. 

He was awarded the Ateneo Art Award in 2017 and selected as an artist in residency at Gasworks in London in 2019. His work has been exhibited in international biennials including Gwangju, Berlin, Göteborg, Los Angeles in addition to Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh and New Museum Triennale in New York City. 

Cian’s long term research residency occurred May 2017 through January 2018. 

Cian focused his research into the history and mythology of the Ayta Magbukun community of Bataan, a historically marginalized Indigenous Peoples group in central Luzon, examining their position in relation to colonial and post-colonial history and their representation in ethnographic studies of these periods, in close conversation with members of the community. 

“This project is my attempt to unearth the local histories of the Aytas in Bataan. From various sources, negritos, Aytas, Aetas, etc. have been mentioned, observed and described by outsiders. Their identity has always been tainted by the colonial gaze. They have been literally pushed into the margins of society, higher in the rough mountains and into the hinterlands where their way of life is constantly put to the test via assimilation into Christianity, western influence, commercial interests, global environmental and IP policies, exoticism and the ever changing sites of the global zeitgeist. The larger project is an initiation to archive these outsider accounts about the Aytas of Bataan, as well as to propose new ways on how to understand how we affect each other’s culture and ultimately, lives.”  –Cian Dayrit

He organized roundtable gatherings and counter-mapping workshops with members of the community to facilitate a dialogue about space politics, borders, and territory.

From oral histories and archival materials, Cian materialized imagery into sculptures in collaboration with the welding and wood carving artisans of Las Casas. This included representations of Apo Alipon, Ayta ancestor of Battan (pass through oral tradition), Aytas depicted as fishermen, and colonial characters shaped into wooden helmets. Cian employs art as a vehicle to tell their stories of origin and of contact with the world around them. 

town hall meeting with Ayta members.

work in progress sketches, archival reference materials, and sculptures made by Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar wood carvers and iron works.  

Cian presented the conclusion of his residency in exhibition form at Bellas Artes Outpost on December 7, 2017. The gallery was transformed into an outpost for the Bataan Ayta histories and culture via a timeline, historical photographs (many of them illustrative of a form of colonial gaze that this show attempts to thwart), field recordings, readings, counter-cultural mapping workshop, and sculptures. This research-based artistic project aimed to foster a deeper understanding between highland and lowland communities, and also to publicly discuss the complexities around representing indigenous communities and around cultural appropriation in the art world.

As part of the program, BAP hosted a two-part series of public roundtable discussions that addressed concerns and issues surrounding cultural appropriation and representing indigenous knowledge with perspectives from cultural workers, professors, scholars, anthropologist, archeologists and professionals working with the Aytas of Bataan.

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