Gian Cruz

b. 1987, Manila, Philippines
Lives and works in Barcelona, Spain

Gian Cruz is an emerging multidisciplinary Filipino artist (of Spanish and Chinese origins) whose artistic practice is heavily rooted in photography integrated with his institutional work and background in art theory and criticism. For the 2019-2020 cycle, he became the first Southeast Asian participant in completing the Independent Studies Programme at MACBA. Furthermore, he is the first student of Asian heritage in its 15-year history.

Cruz’s work is central to the volatility of the image in contemporary culture and the multiple discourses that come along with it. His practice extends to performance, translation, history, architecture, ecology, cinema, HIV/AIDS activism, and several other fields and contexts that engage with his current preoccupations as an artist.

Over the years he has worked closely with the National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, Korea, Jeu de Paume, Paris, Picto Foundation (Paris), Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, The Museum of Photography, Seoul, La Biennale di Venezia, Bienal de Curitiba, the Japan Foundation, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Blackwood Gallery (University of Toronto Mississauga), Pride Photo Award (Amsterdam), Visual AIDS (New York), 4A Centre for Contemporary Asiandw Art, Sydney, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (CAC), Quito,
PHotoESPAÑA, Fundación SGAE and Casa Asia, Madrid.

Current Body of Work

Digital photography and performance

(séro)TROPICAL(e) metaphorizes the tropics and its ecological terrain as a site of resistance against colonial exploitation and the naturalization of sexual norms. Performative self-portraits of the artist, who suffers from HIV-related health complications, are juxtaposed against botanical species found in Southeast Asia, foregrounding the intersection of the bodily, the viral and the ecological, as well as recuperating the visibility of HIV/AIDS narratives in the region and, in particular, Cruz’s native Philippines. Here, nature and the body are de-colonized through the notion of queer ecologies, which is premised on the inherence of non-normativity in our natural environment – an idea that also recalls the fact that the first tropical botanic garden in Southeast Asia was established in Malate, Manila, thus aligning the marginality of historical colonization with that of contemporary queerness. The work also bears relevance for the current crisis. As the artist notes: “It traces and fleshes out parallels between HIV/AIDS and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the proliferation of a culture of fear and trauma. This brings us to the realization that a virus’ human contexts and their conditions of social exclusion ascribe meaning to it and further advance its dangerous potentialities.”

Additional References

NOTE: Please see the links below for further reference about the artist and the series ‘(séro)TROPICAL(e).’

Carrera, Eduardo. “Against Nature: Cuy(r) Ecologies and Biodiverse Affectivities.” 03 Jun. 2021 L’Internationale Online. 01 Nov. 2021

“Thinking HIV/AIDS Perspectives and Parallels from a Southeast Asian Perspective and Re-Tracing Anti-Asian Racism and Arbitrary Constructs of Virulence and Race.” writing foto | se asia: An online platform featuring a growing collection of writings on photography loosely directed at the imaginary of Southeast Asia (in partnership with: Matca, Hanoi, VN, Luzviminda Archive of Philippine Photography, Manila, PH, Arkademy, Bogor, ID.

Cruz, Gian. “(séro)TROPICAL(e). The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) –Tilting (2)”, May 2020, Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Country: Philippines