A Pinoy artist’s ‘obra’ for FDH mom

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Anading's visual installation

HE never knew her.

An exhibit last month in Quarry Bay featured a Filipino artist whose mother worked in Hong Kong as a domestic helper for 11 years but died before he could know her personally.

Para Site gallery held a group exhibition, dubbed Afterwork, which explored issues of class, race, labor and migration in Hong Kong. It ran from March 19 to May 29, attracting at least 6,000 visitors.

One of the featured art pieces was the video installation “Ocular” by Filipino artist Poklong Anading, whose works have been featured by the Guggenheim Museum.

Para Site Executive Director/Curator Cosmin Costinas said “Ocular” was the product of Anading’s effort to document the life of his mother, who worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong and whom the artist never got to know.

“He never really got to know her and, when in his 20s he became an artist and quite successful, he finally decided to come to Hong Kong to try to do a work about his mother,” said Costinas.

Costinas said Anading’s mother immediately left to work for Hong Kong after giving birth to the artist in 1975. After 11 years of working in the city, she decided to go home to the Philippines. But shortly thereafter, she died of cancer.

“The only things he had from her were photos that she sent from different places in Hong Kong and this was before the digital age and he filmed those places but he realized it was a futile exercise because he wouldn’t get to know her,” Costinas said.