Artist Chalk Zaldivar’s latest exhibit features gravestones engraved with statements such as ‘Pansexual, scientific name ng malandi’ and ‘Hindi naghihirap ang babaeng may suso

Filipino artist Chalk Zaldivar is being criticized for his latest series of works. His exhibit, dubbed “Itaga Mo Sa Bato,” which opened last July 24, 2021 at Modeka Art gallery, raised concerns as people described some of the featured artworks as misogynistic, homophobic, and fueling bigotry.

Chalk Zaldivar’s latest exhibit

The exhibit plays on dark humor, one that’s always present in the artist’s repertoire by playing with pop culture, religious, and political images, and infusing his own comedic spin on them. This time, he merges puns on Filipino colloquial phrases and trivial practices and presents these on tombstones.

“Chalk Zaldivar employs visual pun with the most final signifier of all: the gravestone,” a story by Modeka Art says. “He inscribed sardonic witticisms onto marble slabs that mimic grave markers, which at first glance imply a degree of solemnity. Upon closer inspection and reading of the engraved texts, cheeky and biting satire presents itself, a classic comic relief device of Zaldivar.”

Statements included in his works like “I’m so conyo amputa,” “Pag lumindol, post ko yan,” and “Lahat ng naka-Fortuner kupal,” poke fun at “elitism, vanity, and our self-obsessed social media culture.” What caught other people’s attention were his works presenting statements like “Pansexual, scientific name ng malandi and “Hindi naghihirap ang babaeng may suso.” Local LGBTQIA+ community Bahaghari called them “dangerous.”

Photo from Bahaghari Twitter page

“Bahaghari asserts that satire is a weapon of the people against their oppressors, but satire lost upon the people becomes the oppressors’ weapon,” it says. “Malintent or not, Chalk Zaldivar’s exhibition merely falls into propagating vicious messages of misogyny and homophobia.”

“Art must serve to emancipate, not to fuel bigotry,” it continues. “To this end, we urge Modeka, and all other creative spaces, to oppose works that only enforce our macho-feudal culture. Platform artists not over mere identity, but over the emancipatory character of their works for queer people.”

The organization also raised Chalk’s 2018 artwork titled “I Know You’d Cut Your Dick Off Just to Prove a Point,” which the group describes as something that “clearly reeks of dangerous, transphobic sentiments, the likes of which fuel the continued violence against transgender women today.”

Photo from Bahaghari Twitter page

In light of the situation, Modeka Art issued a statement expressing its apologies to those who have been offended, released on Aug. 2, 2021 on its social media platforms.

“It is never our intention to offend people with the things we do. For the ones who have been in contact in support, we would like to show our utmost appreciation for your messages,” it says. “We would like to reiterate that we are a neutral platform for expression; we believe that all our previous exhibitions at Modeka Creative Space have given a voice to a wide spectrum of community representation and opinions.”

“We feel as a cultural platform, it is our responsibility to be a safeplace for artists to express their ideas freely and openly. Whatever views expressed by an artist doesn’t necessarily translate our views and beliefs as a gallery,” the statement continues. “At the same time, the [worst] thing we could do is to fall victim to the pressure of censorship, no matter from which side it may come, and regardless of how controversial the works are. Again, we apologize for those who feel insulted and affected by such works.”

Modeka Art also mentions that it is looking forward to “an open dialogue to discuss the matter more… to help better improve our gallery for everyone.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (