FOREST OF AGENCIES
Updated: Jun 25
A solo exhibition by Isola Tong
In Forest of Agencies, Isola Tong considers the poetic potential of the forest in looking at the necessary wildness of queer relationality and agency. As part of a larger research project on the Arroceros Forest Park, a pocket of forest at the center of urban Manila cared for and preserved by the women of Winner Foundation, this iteration of the project looks at the interweaving of rigidities in the structure of urban life and the prolific flourish of fora and fauna that the forest represents. The forest becomes an exceptional queer topos, in this scenario, where different species and materialities participate in levels and scales of co-habitation.
It becomes a site for cultivating an ecology of agencies and for staging scenes of wild life
thriving that vivify intimacies of atmosphere, environment, and agent, elaborating their intricate implications. The park becomes “an urban forest of translocations or a dynamic spatiality in perpetual transformation which acts as a space of trans and femme representation and resistance.” Forest of Agencies pursues Isola’s interest in animating environments—in her practice, dimensions—where heteronormative assumptions are breached by transitivities of both forms and forms of life. She nominates these as transdimensions, where both human and non-human wills and agencies ramify, where stabilities of identity are endangered by vital materialities,proliferation of organism. These possibilities flourish in this forest, playing out intricate elaborations of biological, material, and social forms of life. In this urban forest the self-reliant and the self-sustaining is resisted in favor of a more dynamic and mutually constitutive interrelationship, a complex ensemble of agencies and urgencies.
In becoming attentive to this exemplary ecology, we are transported to “a chimeric locationality outside the heteronormative time-space constructs, rife with anachronisms, multiplicities, moments, and becomings.” And, by nominating the exhibition as a forest of agencies, we imagine its space transforming into an experiment in mediating and troubling the matrix of nature/culture, “hacking into, trailing, rooting, feeding, growing like fungi and epiphytic fora in the cracks and crevices of the existing grid of the contemporary nation- state and global capitalism.” In this scenario, queerness elucidates possibility: wayward growth, excitable life, exuberant ecology.
Isola Tong (b. 1987, Manila) is an architect and visual artist based in Manila. Her work is centered on biogeography, technobiopolitics, architecture and queer futurity. The artist examines the convergence of these themes through performance, videos, installations, drawings, publications, and augmented reality revealing the underlying psychology of the sociopolitical landscape.
Being formally educated and trained as an architect, the artist’s body of work includes a diversity of media which shows her preoccupation with architecture, transgender politics and ecosystems. From works such as a series of structural installations (The Tower, 2018-present), virtuality and scenography (Transdimensional, 2019-present), architectural drawings (Cyborg City, 2018), to performance art (Cyborg Becomings, 2017-present). She graduated cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture.
Circumbulation is an immersive video performance by Isola Tong during the opening of Forest of Agencies.