Schemes of Belligerence
Cian Dayrit
September 14 - November 4, 2023

Cian Dayrit’s interdisciplinary practice explores the intersecting narratives of the Philippines’ complex past and present realities. Engaging ethnography, archaeology, history, and mythology, Dayrit’s works often examine the consequences of colonialism, exploring how it has shaped and continues to shape societies, identities, and power dynamics.

His third exhibition with NOME, entitled Schemes of Belligerence, delves into the historical narratives of colonization, reflecting on the lasting influence of military conquests and the subsequent militarization of the Philippines. By referencing symbols, imagery, and narratives associated with the military, Dayrit provokes discussions about the complexities of national identity and the struggles for self-determination in a post-colonial context. The exhibition’s title work takes the form of a multipart installation comprising embroidered quilts and sculptures that, as curator Natasha Ginwala notes, plot “sequences of masculine valor that reckons with schemes of torture, the centuries-long trap of indebtedness, and martial culture in neocolonies. “ The mixed media work Imperial Puppet Regalia reflects on the collective experiences of militarism as experienced within the broader context of Southeast Asia. Richly embroidered tapestries, finely wrought wooden marionettes depicting military figures, and various forms of regalia and insignia delineate patterns of imperialism and militarism as they intersect with contemporary issues such as military lockdowns related to Covid19, activist crackdowns, the killings of peasant and indigenous leaders, journalists, lawyers, and rights defenders, as well as the appointment of military officials to government positions.

Although rooted in narratives related to Southeast Asia, Schemes of Belligerence reflects more broadly on the proliferation of fascist regimes and the cultures and norms such regimes inflict on people. Dayrit excavates and recuperates these stories of struggle and resistance in this exhibition to challenge dominant perspectives of power and space. As he explains in an interview, “between visualizing and exorcising is an elaborate process of awakening into, enduring, and participating in a struggle that is way bigger than an individual experience. One’s own sensibilities and contradictions are not enough to comprehensively understand, let alone translate, the encompassing effects of systemic historical oppression. One must develop a deeper connection to human experiences and recognize the material conditions that dictate these narratives. Only in solidarity with the struggles of the people can we truly translate, at least, dynamics of exploitation.”


Opening: September 14, 6 to 9 PM
Press Release
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