In-case (Homecoming), 2008 /
Exhibition: Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY
This work was my contribution to the collaborative exhibition “Lost in Your Eyes” at
Columbia University’s Neiman Gallery. The show was organized by Paul Pfeiffer, who invited a group of 35 international artists to produce work around the subject of the Balangiga Bells. As a second stage, the project traveled to London in 2010 and was supposed to travel to the Philippines (but has not yet done so). My participation in this project was made possible thanks to a Wellesley College General Grant for Scholarly Activities.
In-case (Homecoming) was my reaction piece to the Balangiga Bells and their history. Today the three Balangiga Bells are in the possession of the U.S. military. The Bells were captured as war trophies by the U.S. troops after the bombardment of Balangiga and the burning of its church during the Philippine-American War. The massacre of Balangiga occurred on September 29, 1901, as a response to an organized attack by part of Balangiga residents at the time. After this tragic event, the Bells became and are still today, symbols of independence and determination for the people of the small town of Balangiga and the country as a whole. Two of them reside in the Memorial Park of Warren Air Base in Wyoming and the others with the Ninth Infantry in South Korea. Since 1901, the Philippines has requested the return of the bells to the U.S. government. And even though during the Clinton administration there was an intention of returning them, the Balngiga Bells are still in possession of the U.S. Military.
The project involved the construction of shipping crates and bronze point drawings. After learning about the history of these objects and their journey, I decided to build custom made shipping crates for each of the Bells. Based on the information available about their physical appearance, I commissioned the construction of these containers to a company specialized in shipping art objects and antiques. The shipping crates were made so that they could resist at least five trips and could be reopened and closed at least five times. My intention was to provide the shipping containers for the other works in the exhibition as the project moved from New York to London and finally to the Philippines. The bells, embodied in the pieces of all the artists in the show, would then make their symbolic journey back to Balangiga. After its New York debut in November 2008, the show opened in London in April 2010. Sadly there are no immediate plans to have it travel to the Philippines.