ART REVIEW ASIA | How To Wipe Colonialism Off The Map: Cian Dayrit’s Subversive Cartography

Mark Recinto, Art Review Asia, December 13, 2021

Cian Dayrit, born in 1989 to a middle-class family in Manila, creates socially engaged art that aims to challenge and subvert the practices that have resulted in the systemic imbalances that plague Philippine society. Within the Philippines, the peasant (magsasaka) sector comprises 75 percent of the population, according to Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (Artist Alliance for Genuine Land Reform and Rural Development, or SAKA); this includes groups whose livelihoods primarily depend on food production – farm-workers, fisherfolk and the indigenous minority. Through community engagement, Dayrit and his collaborators – craftsmen and local community members – piece together overlooked spatial, temporal and personal narratives of the oppressed via multimedia artworks and installations. He is, however, best known for his ‘counter-cartography’ textiles – large, handsewn maps of existing geographic regions that inspect and subvert power structures. ‘I wanted to challenge the perspectives that somehow monopolised the framing of history and heritage,’ he told A Magazine Singapore earlier this year.