A Study in Scarlet


Named after the 1887 detective novel by British author Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet emerged during a winter photography research trip to Hokkaido, Japan. Whilst nestled in the vast whiteness of the snow, I explored the minimalist sensibility of the Japanese countryside vis-a-vis the horror vacui inclinations of the urban Manila visual landscape, where there is not an inch left without either a building or a billboard on the horizon.

This project consists of mix media paintings, drawings, video animation, and lasercut boards in resin and wooden box sculptures. For paintings, I attempted to limit my colors and, in a repetitive manner, collaged images cut up into minuscule squares; after which I Iayered it with semi-transparent white paint. The last allá prima gestural stroke of red refers to Sherlock Holmes’ words to his chronicler, Watson: “There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”. During this time, I also carried out an investigation into issues around menstruation like an amateur sleuth, watching out for clues along the way.

In the Pop-up Period Show, my works joined the MASS NOW campaign combatting stigma around menstruation, lack of menstrual supplies in public school and prison restrooms, raising consciousness and celebrating periods in Massachusetts. The show initiated a series of dialogues on how “the personal is political” relates to issues of period inequity intersecting social challenges, and breaking the prevailing silence. How is menstrual health a serious, but often overlooked global issue? How does the culture and the politics of menstrual care affect social and educational advancement across the Global South? How can a seemingly banal topic of menstruation move towards a movement for “period equity,” transforming a bodily process freighted with social burdens into an global health-economic issue intrinsic to women’s empowerment?