Participatory Performances: Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23, 2023 | 12-4pm, Chinatown, Fisgard St. at Government St., Southeast corner
Public Talk: Wednesday, September 20, 2023 | 7:30pm, University of Victoria Visual Arts Building
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 is presented in partnership with the University of Victoria Visual Arts, and as part of the 2023 series Wayfinders, the ones we breathe with. Curated by Toby Lawrence
laro na tayo - let's play is supported in part by the BC Arts Council and was commissioned by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program and initially presented throughout Vancouver in 2022. In 2023, laro na tayo - let's play reached communities across British Columbia, including Bowen Island, Prince George, and Victoria.
Paul de Guzman, laro na tayo - let's play, Fisgard St. at Government St., Victoria, BC, 2023. Photo by Toby Lawrence.