Omehen: The Garden as Chronicle and Strategy of Resistance


The project Omehen (which means “harvest” in Manobo Talaingod, the Indigenous language of the Mindanao region in the south of the Philippines) was conceived by Alfred Marasigan, Karl Castro, and Guelan Luarca in collaboration with the Lumad Indigenous community in exile in Manila. Following the bombing of Lumad schools during the ongoing armed conflict in Mindanao, the Lumad people found refuge in various academic institutions in Manila, including the Ateneo de Manila University, where the artists teach. Harvesting is an integral part of the cosmological practice of the Lumad communities, and therefore fundamental to their systems of education and knowledge sharing. Thus, the artists worked together with members of the Lumad community and students of the University to create a space of harvest within the academic institution and to facilitate the continuation of this practice and the mutual sharing of knowledges. Over the course of a year, the artists, students, and Lumad communities engaged in artistic and agricultural practice together. In response to the ideas of Notes for Tomorrow, the project Omehen was invited to present this ongoing work (presented here as audio testimonies and archival materials), which operates at the intersection of Indigenous knowledges, food security, forms of precarity and labor, and addresses questions that are central to thinking about the worlds to come.

Omehen: The Garden as Chronicle and Strategy of Resistance (2019-present) is an ongoing experimental collaboration that focuses on the creation, maintenance, and distribution of a precarious vegetable garden in Ateneo de Manila University. Omehen means “harvest” in the Manobo Talaingod language. In the forefront of the project is supporting the Lumad people of Mindanao, particularly the Bakwit Schools, and their struggleto seek refuge, education, and community in the capital as they experience land grabbing, redtagging, and state-sponsored killings. The project is a facilitation of exchanges of knowledges between all collaborators – students in Ateneo and the Bakwit schools, a Lumad agriculturist, Ateneo’s concerned staff, faculty, and administration – in growing four local crops namely ampalaya/bitter gourd, kangkong/”swamp cabbage”, sitaw/string beans, and okra.

Omehen: The Garden as Chronicle and Strategy of Resistance
Omehen Transcript #1
Omehen Transcript #2
#FreePangadasBrothers #FreeGaryCampos #SaveOurSchools #JusticeForNewBataan5 #JunkNTFELCAC #DefendAndapValley

Abhijan Toto is an independent curator and writer, and with Pujita Guha, the co-director of the Forest Curriculum. He has been the Curatorial Assistant to the Artistic Director of the Samdani Art Foundation, and Assistant Curator for the 2018 edition of the Dhaka Art Summit. Previously, he served as the Programs Manager at the Bellas Artes Project, Manila and Project-and-Curatorial Assistant, Council and the Against Nature Journal, Paris, France; the Majlis Cultural Centre, Mumbai, and the Asia Art Archive. He is currently a fellow of the Forecast Platform at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, and has been a fellow of the Tate Research Centre: Asia, at the MMCA, Seoul and researcher-in-residence at the HSLU-University of Applied Arts and Sciences, Luzern Switzerland and at the Tentacles Art Gallery inBangkok. He is a member of the Chareon Contemporaries collective, based in Bangkok. Selected exhibitions include Occupy Exhaustion, Haus der Welt, Berlin (2018); Postscripts, Bangkok Biennial (with the Chareon Contemporaries Collective) (2018); History Zero, Mumbai Art Room, Mumbai (2017) and is participating in the School of Storytellers, part of Ghost2561, with the Forest Curriculum, and Southern Constellations, Moderna Galleria, Ljubljana (Contributing Curator, 2019). He will participate in the TransCuratorial Academy in Phnom Penh and the Parasite Workshop for Young Curators (2018), and has participated in the Curators‟ Workshop, Kochi Biennial (2016) and Gwangju Biennale (2018). He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University of Baroda, Indiaand holds a certificate from the ENSBA, Paris.

Notes for Tomorrow is a traveling exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI) and initiated by Frances Wu Giarratano, Jordan Jones, Becky Nahom, Renaud Proch, and Monica Terrero. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, VIA Art Fund and ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.

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