Pacita Abad: Stitched, Padded, and Layered Senses of Self
By Nicole M. Nepomuceno
Despite being the largest non-Chinese population in Hong Kong, and the providers of many essential forms of labor, the city’s 200,000-plus Filipino residents are largely absent from its cultural ecosystem. Having landed in Hong Kong from the province of Bulacan at the cusp of adolescence, I grew up with an awareness of this invisibility. Entering the art world—one that is rich in discourses of migration but not in tangible, empathetic spaces for working-class migrants—only amplified this void. My navigation of this selectively inclusive environment, as with being a minority in any space, has thus been punctuated with periods of loneliness. Therein lies the significance of representation: the comfort of companionship, the relief of being seen. Of the thousands of works in the collections and opening exhibitions at Hong Kong’s M+, it was a bright canvas by Filipino itinerant artist Pacita Abad (1946–2004) that gave me great camaraderie, and at times during my employment at M+, even empowerment.