Eric Oteyza de Guia (1942) was born in the Philippine city of Baguio but changed his birth name to Kidlat Tahimik, which means “silent lightning” in Tagalog, the native language from the centre and south of the island of Luzon. After studying Economics and Business in the Philippines and USA, and after starting out as an economist in France, Tahimik became disillusioned after a growing awareness of the capitalist structures governing productivity and the growth of society. From that juncture, the Philippine artist has worked as an actor, performer, writer and, primarily, as a film-maker.
Tahimik’s artistic practice is put forward through interdisciplinary visual installations that reflect constant synergies and transfers with his film work. Seemingly chaotic and with no established order, these pieces recall the narratives of his films, sometimes with no screenplay or with the impression of open narratives under constant revision. There is dynamism in the way he realises his installations, focusing on evolving circumstances and the receiver’s interpretation, and throughout his oeuvre he habitually returns to materials and local craftsmen that operate outside the norms and practices of the art ecosystem, just as he avoids collaborations with professional actors in his audiovisual work.
The unfolding narrative and imagery in the artist’s practice link globalisation to colonial violence. On this occasion, the Palacio de Cristal in the Retiro Park — built in conjunction with the General Exhibition on the Philippine Islands, in 1887 — becomes the ideal setting for him to reflect on the impact of colonialism on local cultures. Thus, Tahimik unfurls an epic stage that straddles Philippine indigenous resistance and the contamination of imperialist cultures imported from the European continent and North America. The unveiling of his new project also represents an analysis on the fifth centenary of the first encounter between Spain and the Philippines.
Kidlat Tahimik has been honoured with numerous awards at international film festivals, most notably the International Critics’ Prize at Berlinale (1977) and, more recently, the Prince Claus Laureate Award (2018). At the 2019 Sharjah Biennial he presented Ang Ma-bagyong Sabungan ng 2 Bathala ng Hangin, A Stormy Clash Between 2 Goddesses of the Winds (WW III – the Protracted Kultur War) to great critical acclaim.