Dennis Dizon

Ritual as Protocol as Ritual / the disappearing body


Filmed during the first wave of the pandemic, the disappearing body accesses the babaylans’ spiritual transformation for recovery and repair. Shamans of the indigenous communities in the pre-colonial Philippines, or babaylans, were women, transgender, transfem or gender non-conforming. Holding access to the divine feminine, the invocation of a babaylan usually began with a “psychological” crisis; as an intermediary between the material and spiritual worlds, they would enter into fits of temporary “insanity” and a loss of control over their body, withdrawing from others, disappearing into nature and performing other “unnatural” acts. 

During the Beyond Matter residency, Dizon tracked and visited ancient sacred sites in Estonia, embodying scores of shamanic invocations specific to the Philippines and across Asia. In the moving image work, the artist’s body – in a chroma key suit – rests on a sacrificial stone, incubating to shed the human condition and the limitations of its imposed binary identities.

This moving image spatial installation invites the public to immerse in ecological thinking via the (e)spiritu-virtu or as the artist refers to it “a queer approach to an ecological crisis”. Dizon’s approach determines the proximities between colonial histories, queer trauma and ecological violence, of which the disappearing body has been a utility for all three. How can this body decentre anthropocentric behaviours to align with beyond-human processes?

Ritual as Protocol as Ritual / the disappearing body