Balagan presents: The Kalampag Tracking Agency

Monday, May 8
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1hr 30mins

Presented in conjunction with Crows and Sparrows, Balagan welcomes Manila-based filmmaker and curator Shireen Seno to present a program of Filipino experimental film and video from the past three decades. The Kalampag Tracking Agency is an ongoing curatorial initiative of Shireen Seno (Los Otros) and Merv Espina (Generation Loss). A discussion with Shireen will follow the program.

Overcoming institutional and personal lapses to give attention to little-seen works—some quite recent, some surviving loss and decomposition—this programme collects loose parts in motion, a series of bangs, or kalampag in Tagalog, assembled by individual strengths and how they might resonate off each other and a contemporary audience. Featuring some of the most striking films and videos from the Philippines and its diaspora, this is an initiative that continues to navigate the uncharted topographies of Filipino alternative and experimental moving image practice.

They say it always starts with a bang. Or a series of bangs.

Like the tiny explosions in your brain that rattle you to take action, it could be something simple and small, not necessarily earth-shattering. The act of capturing the fleeting moments, ideas and visions and down both entail a certain slippage of forms and time, something that tends to elude us but cannot be ignored, something which we liken to kalampag, a Tagalog word that roughly translates to a ‘bang’; the act of tracking them something of an alert, a warning that something may worsen or interrupt the journey, versus the stable engine hum of a giant system, a well-oiled machine; like the rattling of loose parts that collide while in motion.

This is a collection of loose parts in motion, a series of bangs, assembled by individual strengths, and how they might play off each other in the context of a screening program. Featuring works from the Philippines and its diaspora, it is here that we present some of the most singular, fragile, and striking moving image works by Filipinos over the past thirty years. It could have been from forty years, or more. But we are limited by time and resources, and what we have current access to.

This is by no means a representative program. This selection is personal, subjective. Like the works assembled here, the act of assembling this program is itself informed by a certain agency, by an independent urge to act on one’s will.

With no small amount of detective work to address the institutional and personal gaps of proper cataloging, archiving and storage, we tracked down individual people and individual works, from the nooks and crannies of several libraries and collections, to tiny islands in the Visayas, to the Los Angeles sprawl.

With a variety of formats, techniques and textures; from 8mm and 16mm to HD and cellphone video; from found-footage and optical print experiments to ethnographic documents and video installations; this is a collection of works assembled not by theme, history, medium or other arbitrary concerns: this is a confluence of uncanny juxtapositions and pleasant contradictions, an experience not unlike revisiting a familiar place in a new light. But before you get to where you’re going, you hit a speed bump or a pothole and you hear a loud rattling coming from your car. Sometimes you think something’s amiss; sometimes it’s the sound of it that comforts you.


DROGAI (2014) 7 min

Minsan Isang Panahon (Once Upon a Time) (1989) 4 min

ABCD (1985) 5 min

Bugtong: Ang Sigaw Ni Lalake (Riddle: Shout of Man) (1990) 3 min

Very Specific Things at Night (2009) 4 min

Juan Gapang (Johnny Crawl) (1986) 7 min

Chop-chopped First Lady + Chop-Chopped First Daughter (2005) 2 min

The Retrochronological Transfer of Information (1994) 10 min

Ars Colonia (2011) 1 min

Class Picture (2012) 5 min

Anito (2012) 8 min

hindi sa atin ang buwan (the moon is not ours) (2011) 4 min

Kalawang (Rust) (1989) 7 min


This program is funded in part by a grant from the Brookline Commission for the Arts, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. Further support is provided by the Harvard University Asia Center.

This program would be impossible to put together without the kind support of the individual artists, the Mowelfund Film Institute, UP College of Mass Communications, UP Film Institute, Ateneo Art Gallery, Green Papaya Art Projects, Terminal Garden, and the National Film Archive of the Philippines.