The practice of Diokno Pasilan takes him to the inimitable expressions of entitlement. Usually coded as cultural or ethnic, this sense of the local world is never tied to the typical. While it discerns the “selves” in the conceptions of the “other,” it is never typifying, even if the artistic self is foreign at the outset. Rather, the impulse is to glean the exemplary, or hopefully, the reciprocal. This is most sharply expressed in his projects involving communities in Palawan, an island in the Philippines. In one of these, the landscape is Barrio Kemdeng in San Vicente. It is collected as a community under an initiative called Masinlo, or Mamamayan Sining Linabungan Organization, which later turned into Magandang Ayos Sining Lugar. Conceived with the involvement of the people in this particular geography, it would be at first glance a mere “beautification” experiment, in which families were asked to decorate their houses in a competition. But beauty in this instance is “intrinsic expression,” a performance of sentiment, with affective instinct assuming social life. The artist explains: “The Masinlo project basically started in the year 2001 during my residency in Barangay Kemdeng, San Vicente in the northwest of Palawan. My relationship with the locals developed through day-to-day exchanges of conversation. This connection ledto an interest of doing a batik-making workshop in response to enhancing their daily life of fishing and farming. ..During the course of the workshop the name ‘masinlo’ (which translates to ‘something beautiful’ from the local dialect of the Agutaynens) was chosen to represent any future projects. Through this interaction a house beautification project was initiated to coincide with the local town fiesta held every first week of December.”
The notion of adornment, pahiyasor gayak is central in this advocacy, its potency as a mesmerizing repetition, a habit of reiterating and thus living with what is inspiring or masinlo or maginhawa, as well as its intuition of an “open-endedly social world.” In other words, ginhawa is irreducibly relational, contingent on discord and disruption and aspires to restoration and balance, the negotiation of tension, the recovery of soul-loss when vitality or naturaleza is compromised and ecology is threatened. Indeed, it is an ethical premise, a claim to bounty or contentment, a commitment to abode, and an exceptional hospitality to a multitude of neighbors and natives, fellow settlers and strangers, re-patriated perhaps, or struggling with ex-tradition. Diokno Pasilan’s art thrives on this sharing with fellows and their commensurate affections.
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