Afterlives of Martial Law

Christine Bacareza Balance
Asian American Studies
UC Irvine

This project is a multi-site, multi-program public partnership between UC Irvine and Visual Communications (VC), a Los Angeles-based Asian-American media arts organization, to digitally preserve archival materials and present public programs that document the history of Philippine martial law and its impact upon Los Angeles-based communities. Martial law marks the 21-year dictatorship of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda. Like many other authoritarian leaders, the Marcoses played upon the sensational to divert attention away from their covert operations—state-sanctioned political detainments, imprisonments, torture, and killings—while captivating audiences with invented traditions and national myths to enable their New Society. Martial law also marks a time when U.S.- and Philippines-based activists and artists worked against this state of exception. This partnership brings together those whose work focuses on the relationship between cultural memory & politics as well as those who lived through martial law and those born in its aftermath. Comprised of digital archiving, a gallery exhibition, public events, and a community oral history project, this project is a timely commemoration of the 35th anniversary of martial law’s declaration and a necessary reminder of how artists & activists resist authoritarian regimes.