Red Tagged: Jay Javier

A photographer-educator has collaborated with his students for a collection of photographs that serves as a satirical reply to “red-tagging” in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s ongoing online art exhibition.

Jay Javier’s “Red Tagged!,” which is “an absurdist retort to an absurdist reality epitomized by the current administration,” is part of the exhibit “To Differ Digitally 2: Love and Dissent in the Time of Pandemic.”

It looks at red-tagging literally “by having real red tags attached to the objects in the photographs.”

Javier, who has been with Benilde since 2010, is one of the faculty members from the New Media Cluster who heeded the call for project proposals of the Center for Campus Art under its director, Architect Gerry Torres, and NMC, which is headed by Associate Dean Maria Sharon Mapa Arriola.

A professional photographer for 35 years and an educator for 30 years, Javier curated the set from photos submitted to his MMA photography classes last academic year. 

Christian Babista, his fellow photographer and an award-winning experimental filmmaker himself, edited the photo slideshow.

“The project originated as part of their Service Learning requirements. The SL office listed several themes for this requirement, and among these was Human Rights. This brought to mind one of the infamous events which happened during the pandemic: the nefarious red-tagging of the spontaneous, citizen-initiated community pantries by a paranoid and incompetent government,” Javier recalled.

“Red-tagging,” as defined by the International Peace Observers Network and as used by the Commission on Human Rights, refers to the “act of State actors, particularly law enforcement agencies, to publicly brand individuals, groups, or institutions as… affiliated to communist or leftist terrorists.”

CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said this act of accusing individuals or groups of being communists – often without substantial proof – may have serious consequences on their security. Human rights groups claim that “the tagging spree has led to a spate of unlawful detentions and killing.”

Reporters Without Borders, an international non-governmental and non-profit organization which aims to protect the right to freedom of information, stressed that the said practice exposes these groups or individuals to violence and death threats.

“Red-tagging” has been increasingly used not only by anti-communist groups but by President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters and government officials as well.

The tactic has been used against academics, activists, doctors, journalists, and students, among others, according to rights groups.

Facebook pages reportedly belonging to the Armed Forces of the Philippines published a list of alumni and academics from the University of the Philippines, claiming they were either deceased or present NPA rebels.

TDD2, a show co-curated by Karen Ocampo-Flores, looks at the digital landscape as a platform to communicate constructive protest based on love and empathy.

Aside from photographs, it also features live action films, animation, 2D and 3D models and rigs, texts, audio, applications, software, graphic design, and illustrations. The works are available at CCA’s new website (www.benildecampusart.com).

For more information about the exhibit and other projects, visit CCA’s social media accounts on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BenildeCampusArt), Twitter (https://twitter.com/csbcampusart), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/benilde.campusart/) and YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/BenildeCampusArt).

View the work here: https://youtu.be/U9UxPwuxCVE

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