ManMadeWoman 2014


In Nikki Luna’s Man-Made, the meeting of two normatives—the objectified female in an aesthete patriarchy, and the struggling proletariat in a neoliberal and neocolonial society piece together a portrayal of the Philippine subaltern. This population is bestowed with a working knowledge of the colonizer’s language enough to understand the “winning questions”, trained, exported, oppressed and displaced but nevertheless, decidedly heterogenous.  Luna cannot reiterate it enough. The controlled body chooses its battle according to its social status. The artist’s background ranges from fashion to human rights advocacy, a wide spectrum of experience that has recalibrated her view of the women’s struggle in a developing society. She increasingly incorporates the mingling of concerns of the elite and the workers in her works—from diamonds made of sugar harvested and produced by below-the-minimum wage workers (Hacienda Luisita massacre issue); to a glittering fiberglass backhoe bucket portraying the superficiality of “social-oriented” soirees held in the metropolis for the benefit of a cause thousands of miles and concerns away (Maguindanao massacre issue); and now to a parade of homogenized female bodies that questions the celebrity of beauty pageants in a nation rife with socio-economic difficulties. The stark differences of paradigms push and pull the focus from form to substance and vice versa. Such dialectical plays produce seamless self-contained fragments that determine Luna’s obvious standpoint. No blood has been drawn but the polished appearances of her pieces pulsate with a growing awareness of the status quo.