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I Woke Up and Chose Violence

Caroline Garcia

A photo of Caroline Garcia
A photo of Caroline Garcia

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, this project will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.

May 20–June 25, 2022

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I Woke Up and Chose Violence is a response to the murders and deaths of BIPOC people inflicted by the hegemonic systems that continue to oppress our communities. This project centers the emotions of rage and anger often felt by non-hegemonic bodies that are constantly forced to navigate personal and institutional loss. As an artist of the Philippine diaspora, Garcia intends to use her Session program to specifically acknowledge and mourn a long history of anti-Asian violence and its proliferation since COVID-19. This project confronts racial, ethnic, and gendered stereotypes and ideologies to explore the possibilities of meeting force with force – to oppose white/colonial violence with tropical dissent.

Garcia’s project is part of a five-year reexamination of the narratives around the Indigenous practice of headhunting in the Philippine Islands. Historically, these practices functioned as a moral rationale for civilizing missions by Western imperial powers. Garcia is interested in symbolically recuperating headhunting’s role as a psycho-spiritual ritual for processing and dissipating profound personal grief, whilst extending this notion of grief to the burdened histories of colonial erasure that persist in our present day. I Woke Up and Chose Violence, therefore, leads with an unconventional ethos and flirts with transgressions in dealing with the subject of violence.

Garcia will segment the Session gallery into two distinct areas. The first to be activated will be an evolving installation made of reimagined weapons based on period and improvised weaponry traditionally used in headhunting expeditions, (such as daggers, swords, axes, spears, etc.) and self-defense training tools. These weapons will undergo a facilitated process of re-rendering through an intersectional feminist and diasporic intervention, decoupling the objects from hyper-masculinized, patriarchal affiliations. This work will involve an interactive design session to create a personalized weapon through a process of sketching and/or making small prototypes with visitors. She will then translate a selection of these designs into 3D-printed objects at the scale desired.

The second area will be fashioned into an arena for Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) training and somatic research. Participants are invited to use this space to explore what it is like to wield training weapons with the aim to activate and physically think through their design strategies or simply to experience striking a punching bag (or two). In addition, the artist has invited her own martial arts instructor to lead self-defense workshops that draw on techniques and concepts from Filipino Martial Arts through an introduction to a practical set of self-preservation tools that can be used for immediate application.

Garcia hopes the experience will benefit and center the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander women, girls, and gender-nonconforming femmes (as well as BIPOC women and femmes). By leaning into the emotion of rage as well as a critical engagement with violence – an approach historically imperative to women warriors and female fighters – a deliberate tool for political warfare and self-preservation can be determined. This project is an act of ethnographic refusal and resistance to the commodification of trauma by exploring self-defense, attack, and healing. It not only preserves indigenous rationales, but also honors and modifies them to our current survival needs.

Session invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.

About the artist

Caroline Garcia

Caroline Garcia is an interdisciplinary artist working across performance, video, and installation through a hybridized aesthetic of cross-cultural movement, embodied research, and new media. Caroline’s most recent body of work draws from Indigenous Philippine practices of headhunting and Filipino Martial Arts, all as a way of processing grief, specifically that of matriarchal loss, as an individual and in the postcolonial Filipinx diaspora. Caroline is a 2021 New York Artadia Awardee and has presented work at The Shed, Creative Time Summit X, New York Live Arts, Lincoln Center, Smack Mellon, The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, The Sydney Opera House, Manila Biennale, Art Central Hong Kong; among others. She has completed residencies at Pioneer Works, ISCP, MASS MoCA, Institute for Electronic Arts, Wave Hill; among others.

artist website


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