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Visual Art

Agony/Ecstasy Poster, illustration of hands holding light in at the crotch

Agony/Ecstasy is an animation piece of disparate moments intimated by the Spanish Baroque flourishes. Baroque is not simply an epoch or an aesthetic style but an interlocking system of domination and control that seeks to slither itself into whichever colony it lands on. Thus, latching itself to the minds and bodies of its subject natives. The title “Agony/Ecstasy” is how the artist views the statues of the Catholic Saints that have dotted the cultural landscape creating territories of reverence. The artist views that the faces and the bodies of such saints flit between serenity to the ecstatic elations of apotheosis of spiritual heights even at the pains of martyrdom via torture and death. The body of the faithful is now subject to both scrutiny and control of the colonizer’s prevailing religion. Baroque is dominion via body politics demonstrating intense dramas of the bodies to the colonized.

This operation relegating the body as a site for control is not just by Spanish colonizers but inflicted as well by other Western colonizers in Southeast Asia. Though the details may be different, the aims are similar: subject the body and reshape it into what is “decent.” “Decency” is a colonial mindset as to being an acceptable approximation of but never really becoming the colonizer. Colonized bodies are fraught and must be pacified. One of its fraught measures is how many Southeast Asian cultures show “queer” inflections. Such bodily displays of affection and identity are deemed transgressive by the West for they believe such queerness has no place for they deem it unhealthy and a mark of savagery. Thus justifying further violence via the instructions as well as the cartographic violence of the overlapping institutions left behind in their wake (such as the legal system and education) to curtail such aberrant “queer” bodies.

Jose Santos P. Ardivilla


Jose Ardivilla is a political cartoonist, animator, and writer from the Philippines.

He is currently pursuing PhD in Fine Arts as a Fulbright-CHED scholar in Texas, USA.