collection of selected works (1987-2010)
A dog sprawled along a busy street, bloodied and lifeless. An aged taxi driver by his wheels perpetually in search of a passenger. A transsexual in Malate displaying evidence of his instant sex change. These are just some of the most striking images from the visual chronicle of Neil Daza, filmmaker and photographer, titled “Peripheries,” opening Dec. 20 at the Black Soup Art Space (former Cubao Shoe Expo, Quezon City).
A disciple of concerned photography, Daza seeks to probe the existence of marginal lives in the city, particularly those that have been consigned to peripheral existence, as well as Third World hubris, objects like personal effects that have outlived their usefulness such as shoes, boxes, cosmetics kits. Places, both indoor and outdoor, that have grown decrepit with abuse, neglect and apathy, are also part of the show.
Daza had previously mounted a show of his photographs, delving into the sanctity of death and dying and the rituals that accompany or dramatize them. These photographs betray the propensity of most Pinoys to call attention to themselves, their show of bereavement becoming a convenient excuse to appease God, a telenovela that gives rise to display of histrionics.
The subjects in this show are sundry people he has come across with in the course of his trips around the country and abroad. There are women, transvestites and transsexuals, plying the red light district, in search of the elusive customer. While there are also animals of the canine variety, they are shown as suffering from disability or cruelty, something that the human characters will find empathy with.
An award-winning cinematographer, Daza has chosen to shoot images as he stumbles into them by accident or as fate would have it. Under these conditions, the subject is indeed capable of revealing its true nature. As Daza writes in his notes: “Seeing the little things that mean nothing or trash to most people is paying attention to life as it happens, when we live each moment at a time.”
There are transvestites and transsexuals in the show, plying sleazy joints around town, both here and in Thailand, two of the most hospitable places to their kind. There are circus denizens, too, like characters straight out of a Fellini film, or made-up extras desperately vying for a few minutes of fame.
There are engaging sideshows that will, by turns, amuse, tickle and shock viewers who are strangers to seeing life as raw and intimate as Daza’s camera, devoid of the vulgarity of melodrama, or the niceties of chi-chi society. But even those exposed to life’s fringes are bound to discover something of themselves as they journey through the peripheries of life, once hidden from view and now fully exposed.