When images of civilian death plague the news, political motives endure, cruelty of class conflict is exposed like tabloids on the newsstands. It doesn’t seem like people “get it”. Generalized scenes of slaughter and humiliation become an event instead of a tragedy. And it was not as if war, famine, and political allegories ended in the conflicts of Napoleon’s empire. Francisco Goya’s work, “Los Desastres De La Guerra”, created as an act to condemn the gruesome time period, never lost its power to expose specific horrific details of the fatal consequences of a war, even today. Since the 18th century, man has been obsessed with the aesthetic pleasure of his own destruction.
Looking back, even Picasso and Dali created works referencing “Disasters of War” at a time when they had lost faith in the forces of progress. In 2003, British artists The Chapman Brothers, bought a complete set of Goya’s “Disasters of War” in mint condition and vandalized it. They called it, the rape of creativity at the peak of George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s regarded ideologies. Their act of defacement and destruction of a work of art was an act of pure deviance to anything sacred.
Year 2012, Manila – It seems like hearing the news was from yesterday, and even words like “Blood for oil” sounds like a broken record. We are constantly bombarded with anonymous casualties and grotesque details in the news that we treat as commonplace. Our own knowledge of armed conflict has its vague and dangerous roots. Only a small percentile of human society is deeply integrated with the issues and struggles that our own nation and its alliances have chosen to involve themselves with year after year.
We ourselves see conflict in our day-to-day in small significant scales, wherein we choose the battle for aggression for one’s own will. Conflicts with money, morality, politics, and capital: this humiliating repetitive fascistic behavior, like a cognitive disease – seems like our feeble minds find aesthetic pleasure in. You’ll soon find it tiring to talk about the superficial appearance of a capitalist economic system. What else is new?
To Hidalgo, nothing is. He makes use of the deluge of information of repetitive images and battle scenes. He uses the lyrics of old punk songs downloaded as mp3’s. He even questions the reproducibility that “anti-authoritarian ideology” symbols represent. He integrates appropriation, ekphrasis, bootleg and piracy in his process. He studies the overuse of Goya’s series, with each print carefully, reverently, chosen to be copied. Hidalgo formulates his own literacies from fragments of the infrastructure of war and images, “transferred” symbolic meanings and recurring headlines. Examining the idea of pathos and tragedy in predicting tomorrow’s events, he humbly exposes that there is nothing opportune with a ruler’s barbarity and the victims’ acceptance of it. He studies the interpolation, the recurrent, the amusement, and the reverence to this cognition leading to the aesthetic rapture of the darkened masses, widespread in its cultural popularity.
– Lian Ladia, 2012.