Sore Throat

by Davide Bugarin & Adam Castle
Produced by Pollyanna

Solo exhibition at Microscope Gallery, New York City (USA)
13 - 15 June 2024
Opening Reception 6-8pm on Thursday 13 June
20min screening on loop between 6 and 7.15pm, followed by a reception with the artists. Viewers may enter and exit at any time

Solo exhibition at Kriittinen Gallery, Turku (Finland)
2 - 28 August 2024
Opening Reception Thursday 1 August

Solo exhibition at Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (UK)
November 2023

Sore Throat (2023) is an interactive film installation that explores how sound overheard through walls has impacted queer people and spaces in the Philippines, where the interpretation of sound is informed by monstrous mythology and the distortions of colonisation and gentrification. In the film’s glowing midnight world, a character played by Davide Bugarin shapeshifts between matador, coloniser, emcee and young queer Filipino. Shot on location in Manila and in a constructed space, the 20-minute film blends cabaret and moving image with a new interactive technology, developed with Studio Autonomic. As in live cabaret, the on-screen performer breaks the fourth wall and commands the audience to make noises, both adorative and animalistic. Theatrical backdrops, costuming and song fill this illusionistic world, where monstrosity lingers but cannot be pinned

Sore Throat (or Magang Lalamunan in Tagalog) draws upon historical and contemporary interpretations of sound heard through walls in the Philippines, and personal queer experiences. In rural Luzon, we witness a knock at the door. ‘Tao po!’, the traditional announcement (‘I am human’) is heard. It declares that the voice is not a monster’s. Filipino folklore has long been filled with Aswang, monstrous creatures who shape-shift into animals such as dogs, crocodiles and birds. As Spanish colonisers set upon the Philippines in the 16th century, they exploited pre-existing beliefs to propagate the notion that women and queer people were Aswang. At night, it can be hard to tell if the noises heard through the walls of homes are the calls of jungle animals or the cries of an Aswang. This tension permeates the film, as the thin theatrical walls struggle to contain either safety or sound.
As rejection and self-judgment swirl, the sole performer is plucked from rural Luzon to Manila, a city that has long been a destination for queer Filipinos. Areas such as Malate have come alive at night as queer districts, with karaoke bars bustling and streets becoming overflow social spaces. Yet the vested interests of new businesses and residents desire a more quiet and respectable neighbourhood, and the sound of late-night performance reverberates against them.

At the entrance to the gallery is a capiz shell curtain - a vibrating entrance covering that has been rendered digitally and made static. Surrounding the film projection are four hanging banners, reminiscent of the wings of a theatre. The imagery upon them is created from a photo taken by a dentist of the inside of the performer’s mouth. This human form has been constructed as space in architectural software before being transformed into millions of digital sequins. The audience finds themselves amongst this glittered throat as they experience voices passing through the fourth wall and physical walls, shaking certainties in a contested world.

Funded by Creative Informatics, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, and Newcastle University. With thanks to Fruitmarket, Edinburgh College of Art, Reid School of Music, Edinburgh Dental Institute, ECA Film & TV Department, Julie Bills and Ross Buchanan.