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CSSP hosts “headless pair”


(December 4) - An arresting pair occupies the AS Steps. 

Set beneath a giant Christmas parol not far from the Philippine flag on Palma Hall’s second floor is a pair of two 13-foot headless statues, an artwork by visual artist Toym Imao.  Unveiled last November 29, the public art “Head of State” is part of the University’s celebration of Andres Bonifacio’s sesquicentennial birth anniversary.

The two statues are made of cold cast resin with bronze dust and done using the 9-foot scale proportion.  The artwork evokes the imagery of two young people, each bearing a ballot box with an identical decapitated head inside.  Both are headless and are wearing shirts, Andres Bonifacio button pins and rubber shoes.  One is in denim jeans, while the other in a skirt.

Head of State

Imao is a multimedia visual artist who excels in both sculpture and painting.  A UP alumnus, he also holds an MFA major in Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art and has been an artist for almost 25 years.  Most of his works can be found in major cities in the Philippines, Vietnam, the USA and Europe.  He is currently the artist-in-residence at the Creative Alliance, a nonprofit organization for artists based in Baltimore.

Imao said “Head of State” was done in the spirit of what Bonifacio stands for and the myths about the man.  The piece is also the artist’s way of imaging the hero.

“People believe that Bonifacio was supposed to be the first president.  I wanted to play with that argument.  And the heads are placed inside the ballot box so people can make their own story.  There are lots of mythology or mythos surrounding this particular individual and I wanted to do my share in trying to image him uniquely—to do something that is not traditional, something that would communicate with the times,” Imao said.


In keeping with the times, Imao intentionally made two headless figures done in the tradition of ‘meme,’ where according to him, “we put our own images and craft emoticons and graphic on ordinary people.  I intentionally made them headless, they are garbed in such a way that you could deduce that they are young people, which is what I want.”

Dean Michael L. Tan of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy said as a place of learning CSSP believes there are different avenues of learning, art being one.  He said the installation is right for the advocacy of the college.  CSSP espouses public history and public social sciences and believes that social sciences should be relevant to people’s daily lives.

“This is one thing that is good about the artwork.  People can touch and sit on it,” Tan said.

Imao is the son of National Artist for the Visual Arts Abdulmari Asia Imao under whom he first trained in the arts.

“Head of State” is on loan and may be viewed until December 8.—Mariamme D. Jadloc, images by Jefferson Villacruz