Mighty Ballistic, 2008


Sculpture Bullet Dress made of .45mm, .38mm caliber bullet and shotgun shells
Performance walking and interacting with people in the streets of Manila

Death cultivates visibility --- what has disappeared is the loudest that calls for us. What can be seen is what is no longer there.  Trauma triggers the search for that inner voice that calls us to slow down and mend.  We re-member a time, re-visit a place, and re-live it in a chosen manner, re-tell our stories, healing our traumas, re-building and re-situating the self on stable grounds.

In 2006, my father was murdered, shot with 4 bullets.  His body was dumped on the side of a provincial road; by a hoodlum gang, headed by an ex-military intelligence man, victimizing desperate men in their senior years.  Unconsciously I was preoccupied with the image of the last moments of him falling to his death.  I bring to the forefront the idea of being a prey, the target of violence. 

The excessive death toll continues on today with continuous unsolved killings and abductions all over the country, personal and political.  The prevailing actuality is that human life is cheap.  Money is valued more than human life.

The performance of wearing this bullet dress included walking with it around the city of Manila.  I was open to any interaction with people. 

I walked slow like in a ritual of a spirit re-visiting a place.  People asked what it was for and I responded by asking the question “What do you think it is for?”  There was a variety of responses like “Is this a promotion for war?”; “Those who killed people should wear this heavy armour everyday to do penance for their acts.”; “You want to stop the war in Mindanao (southern Philippines)?”; “Let sell that by the kilo (referring to the metal bullet shells).  

In this process, I was venerated, asked for blessing, given alms (equivalent to US$1 in 10 minutes).  Some of them requested to wear the armour and complained of the weight.  

Walking the streets of the city in the bullet armour allowed me to view the world from a different perspective, that of a viewer instead of the one being viewed.  As a woman in a society where women are still viewed as an object, I am used to being self-conscious when walking the streets.  However, with this project, I was transported from the spectacle to the spectator.  The armour and its spirit somehow acted as the protector of the object, in this case, me.