JD Reforma, Artist

I want to believe
Year: 2020
I want to believe, 2020
single-channel HD video, sound, 19 minutes 9 seconds
Production: Motel Picture Company

"Precarity is threaded through all accounts of intimate partner violence; people surviving at the thresholds of love and fear, hope and doubt. I made this work because I’ve been thinking about people confined with abusers, reflecting on my last relationship and how I might have navigated a lockdown.

I chose to film on my rooftop because it’s a liminal space – a boundary between home and the heavens, confinement and escape, doubt and deliverance. Writing becomes an embodied, broadcast performance, articulating a choreography of control in which hope is harm, and signs are sirens.

I was going to buy him an X-Files poster for his birthday before we broke up – a blurry UFO hovering above a phrase spelled out in capital letters: I WANT TO BELIEVE."
— JD Reforma

  • Credits
Malakas in Maganda
Year: 2018
Malakas at Maganda is a two-channel video portrait of the artist opposite his mother, Myrna De Guzman, that reflects on the intersection between personal and national identities. Filmed from the waist up, they are framed by various layers of text: at the outermost layer, the words ‘Filipino Strength’ and ‘Filipina Beauty’, which refer to Malakas at Maganda (Strength and Beauty), an ancient Philippine creation myth parallel to the Judeo-Christian mythology of Adam and Eve; ‘Republika ng Pilipinas’ (Republic of the Philippines), sampled from the 1 and 5 sentimo coins of the Philippine peso which, until 1995, featured Lapu-Lapu and Melchora Aquino, respectively the only Indigenous and female figures acknowledged on Philippine coin currency; and lastly, framed, literally, by a pair of sunglasses and a souvenir t-shirt branded with ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’, the international slogan of Philippine tourism, launched in 2012. In combining ancient and contemporary texts and histories through the lens of portraiture, the artist proposes that identity – as well as being historically highly gendered – is also fluid and multilayered, rather than strictly fixed or representational.

  • Credits
Coconut Republic
Year: 2017
The term ‘banana republic’ originates in political science, describing politically unstable countries whose economies are largely dependent on the export of a single resource, such as bananas. It arose in the 1870s when bananas were introduced to the United States as a cheap and nutritional food source, and North American companies subsequently began manipulating national land use laws in Central and South America to acquire vast areas of land for agriculture while employing dispossessed local populations as low-wage workers. Though this practice originated in Latin America it has also been broadly adapted to characterise nations with corrupt governance whose economies are vulnerable to exploitation by foreign corporate interests.

Coconut Republic is a body of work – spanning sculpture, textile, video, site-specific painting and text – that explores how American corporate ideology has colonised our modern field of vision. A cast of iconic international brands and emblems are deployed as ambassadors of a seemingly counterfeit reality in which ‘America’ is the single most valuable and volatile export of our time.

The central work, Coconut Republic, is a single-channel video consisting of footage cut from various Hollywood-produced films whose narratives take place in various foreign zones of conflict, but have actually all been filmed in the Philippines.

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