Rod Dioso is an MA candidate in Digital Arts at Camberwell College in London, England. His thesis documents the visual representations of the Filipino community of London. He is exploring the parallels between the fluidity of transnational communities and the emerging new media of digital art.
He is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University) (2000) and has exhibited in Toronto, Montréal and Tokyo. He is a 2007 recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Visual Artists: Emerging Grant. His work is part of the City of Toronto Art Collection (2008). In 2006, he was a spotlight artist for Toronto’s MIX: a declaration of creative independence. In 2003, he was shortlisted for the Aoyama Design Award in Tokyo.
The Philippines has been exporting labour on a mass scale since the 1980s, resulting in the forging of migrant communities around the world. Yet these transnational communities have been mainly quiet in their host countries, a testament to the imbalance of power these immigrants feel and evidence that remnants of colonialism remain. Although Toronto is home to the largest Filipino community in Canada (population of 150,000, according to Statistics Canada 2001), the community’s visual presence on the landscape is scattered.
In the series of works submitted to the Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Heritage, I have attempted to show the subtle imprints of Filipino-Canadians in Toronto, highlighting aspects of Philippine culture that have been diffused, morphed or have remained intact in the integration process of the community to Toronto. In the creation of this body of work, I have used images of Philippine storefronts, housing communities, newspaper circulations and advertising. My artistic process involved the collection, appropriation, deconstruction and digital reconstruction of these images and represents an exploration of the Philippine diaspora.
Influences include artist Ken Lum, who has explored themes of displaced identity in his Shopkeeper Series (2000) where he has juxtaposed portraits of visual minorities with commercialized slogans and signs. Similarly, I have appropriated images of storefronts and local advertisements available in the Toronto landscape.
Furthermore Manuel Ocampo’s use of transgressive Philippine iconography has highlighted for me the need to make the invisible community more visible through the use of symbolism. Where Ocampo used icons that referred to latent post-colonial aggression, I have chosen imagery that highlights the lived reality of neo-colonialism in the Philippine-Toronto community as it stands on the periphery of popular Canadian culture.
Several of the works in this collection (St. Jamestown I, II & III) were purchased by curator Pamela Wachna and are part of the City of Toronto Art Collection.
Special thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for sponsoring this project.
Photographs provided by the Artist.