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Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite

KADIST, San Francisco, California, USA
June 5, 2019 – August 10, 2019

Culminating his residency at KADIST San Francisco, Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite is Pio Abad’s first solo exhibition in the United States.

The newly commissioned body of work draws from multiple histories of exile, resistance, and displacement from the ’70s and ’80s that brought Filipinos to California, home to one of the largest diasporas of this community in the world. Anchored within the context of wider tragedies during the era of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship in the Philippines (1965–1986), the exhibition reveals the underbelly of the sociopolitical mechanisms that allow authoritarianism to manifest today.

Comprising photographs, sculptures, prints, and paintings, Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite uncovers the tools that perpetuated a political fantasy, allowing the Marcoses to cling to their gilded power. Confuting the myth that the sociopolitical legacy of the Marcoses is isolated to the Philippines, the exhibition summons an international cast of individuals and communities. The fate of these notorious figures become intertwined with the lesser known narratives of the individuals who supported the regime or put their lives on the line for the sake of democracy.

Shedding light on the devices behind empires and dictatorships, Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite is an elegy for those whose efforts were muted by the absolute power that perpetuates empire, for painful personal histories and imminent collective futures.

Pio Abad’s practice is concerned with the social and political signification of things. His work, in a range of media including textiles, drawing, installation and photography, uses strategies of appropriation to mine alternative or repressed historical events, unravel official accounts and draw out threads of complicity between incidents, ideologies and people. Often taking on the form of domestic accessories, Abad’s artworks glide seamlessly between these histories, enacting quasi-fictional combinations with their leftovers.

Recent projects include Splendour, a solo exhibition at Oakville Galleries, Ontario (2019), The Honolulu Biennial: To Make Wrong/Right/Now (2019), and the 12th Gwangju Biennial: Imagined Borders (2018). He has exhibited at venues including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, (2018); Para Site, Hong Kong (2017); Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2016); and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney (2016).


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