Overmapped: A Cartography of Filipino American Visual Arts is an exhibition looking at the vital and vibrant visual arts community with ties to the Philippines. The artists presented in this exhibition are Filipino, Filipino American, American Filipino, scholars of Philippine Studies or Pinoyphiles. This exhibition is an informal and incomplete survey and by no means an exhaustive study. However, the growth and development of the Filipino visual arts community needs to be marked; there is a need to pause, to look, and take stock of what is happening with young artists coming out of school, with established artists and their career trajectories, with hobbyists who find themselves deep in serious artmaking, along with many others. This moment is as good as any!
The artists included in this exhibition represent the various points on the arc of Filipino:American visual art production. The points are defined by both artists and the academia and institutions. There exist the myriad points addressing gender and sexuality, the points of race, ethnicity, or otherness, the points of material and formalism, the points of conceptual and avant-garde, the points of the established and the up-and-coming, etc. There are many points on the arc and one artist may occupy many points simultaneously, or a point might be occupied by more than one artist. The artists included in this exhibition are Melba Abela, Terry Acebo-Davis, Matias Aguilar, Yason Banal, Genara Banzon, The Barrionics, Eliza Barrios, Elaine Benisano, Leo Bersamina, Emily Caisip, Danilo Cuevas, Ariel Erestingcol, Robert Gutierrez, England Hidalgo, Maryrose Cobarrubias Mendoza, Allyn Nobles, Marcius Noceda, Johanna Poethig, Carlo Ricafort, Angela Silva, Alberto Vajrabukka, Charles Valoroso, Carlos Villa, Mel Vera Cruz, and Jenifer Wofford.
The title of this show is the product of intellectual synergy and confusion. The word “overmapped” is derived from the interplay of ‘overlap’ and ‘mapped’. The concept behind the exhibition is to layer on top of the topographical map of the psyche, as developed by Sigmund Freud, with an imaginary topographic sketch of the colonized mind of Filipinos. This overlapping of maps creates a new terrain that shifts with migration and memory, desire and resistance, embodiment and dismemberment, love and hate. These maps are continuously being drawn and re-drawn to charter a course to unknown coordinates. Thus, the act of organizing an exhibition under the theme of “Filipino” becomes a cartographic exercise, redrawing the boundaries of the community and repainting the lines of visual art, in an attempt to speculate a heading and to propose a new course.
Coincidentally, the term “overmapped” is also used in computer programming language. An “overmapped error” describes a situation when 1). two or more data directories exist in a hard-drive and each script in the directory competes and confuses the logic of a given set of memory, or 2). the memory chip is overloaded with a datafile that is too big for it. Either phenomenon describes the condition of Filipino artists. From which “directory” does one process information, or is one’s colonized experience too much to handle within a mainstream framework? The psyche of the Filipino artist is like that of the computer chip overloaded with cultural data from two conflicting sources, always alerting its viewer of a process being OVERMAPPED.