Kidlat Tahimik. Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment Redux IV
Philippines, 2021, colour, original version in English and Tagalog with Spanish subtitles, DA, 60’. International premiere
― Prior presentation and post-screening talk with Kidlat Tahimik and Chema González, head of the Museo Reina Sofía’s Cultural and Audiovisual Activities.
Balikbayan is a Tagalog term meaning “overseas worker” and the word Tahimik uses to refer to himself and the Filipino community, characterised by migration and customary roles in service jobs. Yet it also alludes to another historical balikbayan which has been the source of Tahimik’s decades-long obsession: Enrique de Malaca (1495–1521), a Malayan slave and an interpreter for explorer Fernando de Magallanes who, according to different historical interpretations, could have been the first person to circumnavigate the globe upon returning, in 1521, to the Philippine archipelago (his place of birth), before Juan Sebastián Elcano returned to Spain in 1522. The film connects with Tahimik’s sculptures displayed in the Palacio de Cristal as part of the exhibition Magellan, Marilyn, Mickey & Fr. Dámaso. 500 Years of Conquistador RockStars (29 October 2021 – 6 March 2022), with Malaca represented as an accomplished sculptor who creates figures similar to those on view in the show. A new version of the film, started in the early 1980s and previously shown with different edits, is screened on this occasion. It draws together numerous idiosyncrasies of Tahimik’s film-making, for instance the parodical appropriation of historical cinema, the playful and comic use of post-colonial critique and the relationship between autobiography and historical accounts.