laro na tayo - let's play
"laro na tayo - let's play" ("laro" for short) is part performance, social practice and residual installation. "laro na tayo" means "let's play" in Tagalog. The project channels the nomadic and temporary as a post-colonial strategy referencing the Filipino-Canadian experience. "laro" confronts the complexities of migration, colonization, settlement and multi-culturalism through the didactics of a childhood game and the history it represents.
"laro" begins and ends with the cherished childhood memory of play. Once the national sport of the Philippines, the game of "sipa" (meaning "kick") is ubiquitous in the playgrounds of elementary schools. Its origin predates the Spanish colonization of the 16th century and is played with a shuttlecock-like object made from a "tingga" (metal washer) wrapped in straw/cloth. A precursor to hackysack, "sipa" is often played with others. Fashioned in multi-coloured straw/cloth wrapped around a metal washer, the "sipa" game token is crafted in unlimited quantities. The performance begins with the artist arriving with a collection of "sipa" game tokens. After a brief display, the artist begins to play. A skilled player can kick the "sipa" many consecutive times until eventually landing on the ground. The tokens remain where they land and another token is played with. The audience is encouraged to participate until all the tokens have landed. The artist leaves the tokens behind for the audience to take. The performance lasts about an hour.
The act of kicking and propelling the "sipa" is a wilfully transient act referencing the nomadic and migratory. Further reflection reveals that these early age experiences resonate with adult concerns of fair play, perseverance, migration and other grown-up realities. "laro" bridges a temporal gap between childhood and adult experiences offering a democracy of expression. It symbolizes a desire for our experiences and memories to be recognized, resulting in a cohesive and meaningful dialogue.
"laro na tayo - let's play" was originally commissioned in 2022 by the City of Vancouver Cultural Services Public Art Program. For 2023, the scope of the project expanded to venues outside Vancouver through the support of the British Columbia Arts Council, the City of Vancouver Engineering Services Community Placemaking Program, Bowen Island Museum and Archives, Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, BC, University of Victoria and Open Space in Victoria, BC. The artist is grateful to perform this project on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, the Lheidli T'enneh, the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.
This project will be performed at various outdoor locations within British Columbia. The venue, date and time of each event will be announced on this website about one week prior to the performance.
Paul de Guzman, September 2023