Alvin’s grandfather served as a sniper in the Philippines during WW2. He often shared his war stories to the artist who was very young at the time. These stories, in addition to a life spent drowning in mental illness and the haunting ghosts of war, became part of an intergenerational sharing and succession of trauma and pain. Alvin’s father bore the brunt of his grandfather’s complex ordeal while simultaneously having to strive in their difficult circumstances as immigrants in America. This weight he passed on to Alvin who struggles with his own personal demons.
Towards these histories, the exhibition responds as a ritual to expel ghosts, bad energy, and demons. Alvin has used various organic materials, esoteric imagery, and practices related to a general sense of animistic spirituality in his body of work. In Lolo’s Lil Guerrilla, all these elements come in full force as his “physical” manifestation of a singular intent to finally process trauma and the indelible mark it leaves on those after us generations into the future.
Many religions and spiritual cultures use masks in their rituals to ward off evil. Alvin referencesthis use of the mask as his own way to process and “ward off” negativity and bad thoughts. Theartist attaches his drawings to the mask like self-made talismans. He attempts to draw upon ourlocal practice of “pangtatawas”, driving out the ghosts that have settled in his personal historyand stories. In his exhibition, the mask is installed next to a video, where the artist shakes it at the camera and dances. He uses familiar movements of pushing out, making noise, and“scaring” the evil away.