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Cian Dayrit interdisciplinary practice explores colonialism and ethnography, archaeology, history, and mythology. The artist subverts the language and workings of institutions such as the state, museums, and the military to understand and visualize the contradictions these platforms and formats are built upon.

For this installation, Cian Dayrit aimed to create a humble shrine dedicated to not only cacao but also its broader ecosystem, encompassing its natural, historical, and socio-political dimensions. The exportation of cocoa production is largely dominated by major multinational companies in the global north. At the same time, cocoa is seldom cultivated in isolation due to intercropping practices. This interconnectedness presents a singular identity, and thus the story of cacao cannot be approached without considering the stories of other crops, the land, and the people who are not only cocoa farmers but also producers of durian, coconuts and more.

The installation consists of two primary components. The first entails a wooden sculpture of cacao, adorned with 3D-printed flames reminiscent of the sacred heart, and teeth casts evoking the crown of thorns. The triangular shape of the assemblage symbolically alludes to historical societal inequality. The second component involves a fabric with loosely drawn depictions of narratives collected from farmers, farmworkers, and indigenous communities during the artist’s stay in Mindanao. These stories encompass discussions on land, life, struggles, and systemic injustice. Resting on the fabric are three earthenware busts crafted from clay sourced from Mindanao Island. Serving as effigy-like figures, they offer support and vigilance as they watch over the shrine.

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