Why do you take and create images?
I use photography to tell stories that are close to my heart and wish to bring attention to.
How do you define your photographic/artistic body of work? What subjects do you often explore in your work?
I am a documentary photographer –that is my style. I’ve chosen to focus on stories from the Cordillera where I am form, have photographed women’s issues, urban poverty, Manila and its cityscapes, travel,Indigenous Peoples, the environment, nudes, portraits, the country’s landscapes.
What motivates your work?
I am excited by images, by the stories these images tell. I am curious about how people live. I love history and culture. I love land and people.
What relationship does your work have with reality?
I like to think that my work shows reality without bending it too much to suit my agenda which is to change people and their perception of certain communtiies, issues. I can only photograph what I am willing to show to others. Of course I have also photographed images which was just for myself—like the death of my father. It wasn’t for anyone else. It was deeply personal.
For you, what is the purpose of art?
Art enlightens people. It makes people think deeper about life. It makes people happy too. It is a necessary thing to have art in our everyday lives. Art is crucial to a well-lived life. It is also for everybody. It doesn’t have to be just work that are plastered on museum walls and galleries.
How do you want the public to respond to your work? Do you have a particular audience in mind?
Filipinos are my main audience whether they live and work here in the country or abroad. I want them to be able to be proud of themselves as Filipinos and to know what a great race they come from.
What is your training? Were you trained as a photographer?
Yes, I have trained as a photographer even if formally, it was just for a year. I took a year to study photography at the International Center of Photography in New York in 1994-95 under an Asian Cultural Council grant. I continue learning and studying the medium and the landscape of photography—the making, the distribution, the consumption, the selling of it has changed.I keep myself updated in various online photography fora and discussions.
How do you define your actual professional situation? What are your expectations?
I expect to keep taking pictures until I am I can no longer photograph. Currently, I am doing a lot of rethinking about options for work in the country and in the southeast Asian region. There is not enough work in the Philippines at the moment. But I am also starting a small business which incorporates a lot of imagery. I will know where this will go later this year.
It’s hard to live off art. Does this affect you and your work?
Yes of course.
But one needs to try all avenues like selling photographic prints. We started selling prints of our work at the Art in the Park in Makati three years ago in 2013. In Feb this year we did better in selling photographs. I think we will do this more often now. We are also trying to educate more people especially those who inquire or express interest in our work.
Have you worked with gallerists, curators, institutions and other art professionals? Can you discuss more about this particular relationship?
Yes. It is great to work with local and international curators and institutions who understand your work and who display your work in a respectful and exciting manner. I worked with a HK curator in 2014 and a well respected curator at the Vargas museum early this year (2016).
In your opinion, what is the current state of contemporary photography in the Philippines?
I think contemporary Philippine Photography is diverse and although it is exciting to see new work every now and then, there is still a lack of awareness of the value of photography, a lcak also of respect for the medium. Magazine work pays pitifully and from what I hear, trying to work with advertising agencies is harder and harder for those that do—mostly because there are photographers who can undercut their fellow photographers. There are various groups that contribute to the growth of photography in the country—photojournalists and documentary photographers, art /conceptual photographers, editorial photographers, etc. They each have their clubs, groups, professional organizations. But we can not improve things if we just dialogue with people who don’t really need convincing about our work. We need to promote Filipino photography –here and abroad.We continue to work with various photographers to show work here and hopefully abroad and I think we need to maximize our online presence. We have organized shows, fora, discussions, but we think a Photography Festival would be great. I think the Philippines is way behind in the region when it comes to doing its own photo festival.
How do you want contemporary photography to develop in the Philippines?
I would like more photography shows in beautiful venues—whether it is in big galleries or museums or public spaces. I would like Filipino audiences to see themselves in the photographs and see a positive reflection of their country, of their past and present, of their culture and the history that is the background or context of the images we make. I want more Filipinos to appreciate photography and give it respect. It would be great to have photography books by Filipino photographers.
Name: Kat Palasi
Location: Lives and works in Manila, Philippines
Mobile: +63 917 528 5779
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
Bach of Arts in Communication, Major in Communication Research
Ateneo de Manila, Quezon City
Diploma in Multimedia Journalism
inclusive years (degree earned), (major), (name of university), (location)
Awards and Recognition:
- Asian Cultural Council (New York City) grant 1994-1995
- Asian Cultural Council (New York City) grant 2004
- Angkor Photo festival—2005—one of 7 Filipinos to be awarded free workshops under French photojournalists Sarah Caron and Patrick Chauvel
- Prince Claus Fund grant (Netherlands)—2013—grant to fund The Last Pinetree project
- Asian Women Photography-chosen to represent the Philippines at the Hong Kong International Photofestival in 2014 (Hong Kong)
- CCP group show 1998 on Indigenous People’s Month
- Filipinas Heritage Library, 2002 – group show with Nana Buxani, Rey Panaligan
- (first photo exhibition in Manila using digital prints or giclee on Epson paper and inks)
- Asian Cultural Council group show, CCP main gallery, 2005
- Tala Photo Collective group show- Oarhouse, Manila, 2015
- Tala Photo Collective group show- NCCA Gallery, Manila, 2016