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This art student transformed canned goods into protest statements

Students refuse to be silent in our new normal. Although online classes and other clowneries are part of the pandemic blues, the youth still takes a stand. Their means are through hashtags, supporting youth groups or even through radical means like hacktivism (we don’t condone it).

Young artists are taking a stand too—and Mariane Ylagan is one of them. 

Similar to Andy Warhol, this young art student used canned goods for her stop motion work. The difference between them is that she isn’t making a statement against consumerism. Instead, she takes sardine and sausage cans to call out pandemic band-aid solutions. 

“The canned goods, for me, are a band-aid. They’re a temporary solution to COVID,” says Ylagan. Originally a school requirement, Ylagan was tasked to make a stop motion video with the pandemic as a prompt. “I felt, personally, if I didn’t make it political, it’d be against my values.

Juggling school requirements and pandemic anxieties are tough on her like every student right now. Still, she took the time to bring timely political statements to light. 

Her video opens with a roll of canned goods. In the 30-second stop motion animation, most of them are known brands. Stars of relief good packages. While statements from Duterte’s press cons played, the labels of the can started to peel off. 

It revealed familiar cries of current activists: Medikal hindi militar, mass testing for all, protect the frontliners and mass promotion now. “You are not the government. Shoot them dead,” says Duterte in the last five seconds of the stop-motion. 

To know more about this project, we sat down with the art student. We tackled student life during quarantine, getting red-tagged at a young age and why young artists like her should take a stand too. 

Why use canned goods to bring light to injustices right now?
The message that I wanted to give was like, “Okay, the government is doing something when they give relief packs.” But number one, it’s a temporary solution since canned goods can only last you how many days, especially if you’re a lot in the family. And two, despite giving relief packs, the government gives its citizens more problems.

“The canned goods, for me, are a band-aid. They’re a temporary solution to COVID.”

How is the pandemic affecting you personally as a student?
It’s been difficult since our school didn’t implement mass promotion. This was one of the statements in the video I made. It feels very different and very taxing, mentally and emotionally. I like what I was able to produce. But if it were in an ideal world, it shouldn’t have been the case. Students shouldn’t be forced to make stop motion videos in the middle of a pandemic.

So, in my perspective on school is very muddled right now. As for my personal life, it’s been difficult waking up in the middle of a pandemic when you don’t know what’s going to happen. A lot of people on Twitter can agree that this pandemic leaves us in a huge limbo of question marks.

At a time where young people are getting redtagged or doxxed, what urged you to create something political?
Our mindset as artists is about fighting for causes we believe in. It feels like a crime if you kind of sell-out your principles if it’s not marketable. If I’m being honest, I was really scared when I made it. I have a few friends who are lawyers and studying in law school so I consulted with them. Is it possible for me to be charged? Am I going to be safe?

They told me that I can’t be charged for sedition since I’m not inciting any mass movements or anything. I was already redtagged and the Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) trolls are rampant in the comment section. It’s a lot to take in, but I think that’s the point of the video. If they’re not angry, then, I don’t think I served its purpose. 

“It’s a lot to take in, but I think that’s the point of the video. If they’re not angry, then, I don’t think I served its purpose.”

What do you fear the most for young artists like yourself?
Censorship. It’s hard to express your message, if there is a governing body that negates it. It doesn’t even allow your voice to be heard. A lot of people are worried about that, but I think it’s quite valid to be scared for our livelihoods right now as well.

Read more: A Cebu-based artist was arrested for a satirical post about COVID-19

Some of the threats I got were “bobo ka!” or “wala kang mararating sa buhay!” This is an age-old problem that artists aren’t being recognized. I think artists fear the balance between trying to balance your principles and trying to survive and have food to eat at the end of the day.

I plan to go into advertising in the future. Right now, I’m scared that this fear might follow me—but it might lead to possible success too.

This story is part of our #SeenOnScout series, which puts the spotlight on young creatives and their body of work. Mariane and many other creatives shared their work at our own community hub at Scout Family and Friends. Join the Scout Family & Friends Facebook group right here, and share your work with us in the group or through using #SeenOnScout on Twitter and Instagram.

Read more:
This COVID-19 game is made by a 14-year-old Filipino game developer
I Lost My Gig monitors Filipino creatives’ income loss due to COVID-
This young Cebuano designer is Filipino sustainable fashion’s future

Art by Tine Paz

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