Nazareno: Quiapo Constellations
Pawel althamer

March 28, 2017

Internationally acclaimed Polish artist Pawel Althamer(b. 1967) recently traveled to the Philippines to participate in a residency centered on the procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo. Coming together every January 9thin one of the world’s largest peaceful gatherings of humanity, devotees believe that touching the surface of the image of the Black Nazarene will bring about a miracle. Millions come together in the hope that their prayers will be heard. Quiapo has for centuries been one of the most diverse districts of Manila, where Catholic, Muslim, and Chinese communities co-exist in close proximity. Nazareno: Quiapo Constellations was born from this inspiring context.

Althamer is able to connect diverse communities of people through his artistic process, drawing in disenfranchised members of the neighborhood and transforming how the public perceives them. Quiapo during Traslación was a fitting place for Althamer and his team of 17 Filipino artists and art students to cast the diversity of this dynamic neighborhood. Althamer distilled his memories of the tangles of bodies found during the procession into Russian and Polish constructivist inspired sculptures, created from found wood and scrap metal left over from historical houses collected at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan. We find ourselves entangled within the lines and shadows comprising Althamer’s Quiapo Constellations. 

Althamer’s work pushes the boundaries of what a social sculpture can be. He is inspired by his former teacher Grzegorz Kowalski, who foregrounded that a work of art could be created through complex non-verbal communication performed by artists in interaction with each other, neutralising individualism. Like the practice of creating replicas of the Nazareno for community veneration, Althamer invites visitors to be part of the casting process during weekend casting workshops in the exhibition space. Artists will join the body casts of visitors to new constructions inspired by Althamer’s visual language, adding new constellations to the exhibition. Althamer shares that “The message was simple: United constellations, united people. We are united. We have a common identity.”

Curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt


MLQU, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, NSJBI

Jam Acuzar, Mica Agregado, Daryl De Veyra, Efren Madlangsakay

Ness Sheen Aban, Jason Almariego, Roan Alvarez, Aran Banaag, Rowshan Begum, Gabriel Gapay

Terence Ver Angsioco, Jasper Bunquin, Rico Entico, Mark Gonzales, MM Yu

Agnes Arellano, Sheryl Baltazar, Yason Banal, Billy Bonnevie, Margarita Villanueva, Mariana Villanueva