• Issue
  • Mar 09, 2022

Kidlat Tahimik: History Through the Bamboo Camera

Installation view of Magellan, Marilyn, Mickey & Fr. Damaso. 500 Years of Conquistador RockStars, 2021, wooden sculptures, driftwood, typhoon-felled trees, vines, roots, ratan figures, recycled wood from mining bunkhouses, and artworks from Ifugao master carvers and Kidlat Tahimik’s family members, dimensions variable, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2021-22. Courtesy Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.  

Conversing with Kidlat Tahimik was as surreal as watching his movies. His narratives unfold in different layers, steadily unraveling stories and perspectives, giving insight into his practice and the world he examines. He described his film practice and aversion to scripts, shared his life story and how his experiences translated into his works, offered his perspective of taking time and letting things ferment like tapuy [rice wine], and put forward Indigenous beliefs as a key to understanding our culture and attaining happiness. “I think of myself mainly as a storyteller; it’s what I tell people. Forget any awards you attach to Kidlat Tahimik, that I got a National Artist Award in Cinema. Yun nakakahon yun [Those things are boxed away]. I feel for the last two and a half decades I’ve been doing art installation and performance and film. And even architecture . . . I built all these structures without an architect using recycled materials and kung anong [whatever] inspiration at the moment. It’s like my scriptless films—architecture without blueprints. And maybe my whole life is like that: nothing I guess has become a solid structure. I tear up my MBA, and suddenly I become a hippie and I’m doing crazy films.”