A project by Renan Laru-an

The Artist and the Social Dreamer

Renan Laru-an’s project proposal The Artist and the Social Dreamer is a curatorial plan that puts the medium of formal orations at the heart of an exhibition, focusing on forms of globalization created by the internationalisms of authoritarian leaders. Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi, Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos, Nur Misuari, and other dictators have used speeches to instrumentalize their postcolonial histories, ethnicities, and nationalities. The Artist and the Social Dreamer examines such speeches through a curator’s lens.


“Center of the world, ‘revolutionary’ voices of postcolonial recuperation and nationalist fervor resonated transnationally, promoting essentialist geographic clusters and political alliances. They rallied for the solidarity of the oppressed and the fight against hegemonic forces. In their own terms, Gaddafi, the Marcoses, and Misuari initiated a hybrid form of internationalism and globalization—deploying artistic and curatorial gestures that belied the fundamentalism at their core.”


The Artist and the Social Dreamer reads the medium of the speech against the form of an exhibition, exploring these dictators’ ability to create images and convictions through their diplomacy and words. The project considers the exhibition as a form of speech and investigates how a single voice can develop plurality when curating an exhibition. What is the threshold between speech and showing? What are the limitations of exhibition-making in enacting counterspeeches? With the parallel conditions of speech-as-exhibition and exhibition-as-speech, especially in the cases of these prominent autocrats, this curatorial project has the ultimate goal of problematizing the architectural scaffolding of many global exhibitions.

Laru-an’s previous work encompasses international curatorial projects, research, and teaching. Works with a similar political focus include his screening program lend me your softness (July 2016), which concentrated on the politics of physical security.

Renan Laru-an is a curator and researcher living and working in the Philippines. He is jointly curating the 2017 OK. Video Indonesia Media Arts Festival.

Photo: Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center

Former Philippine Dictator President Ferdinand Marcos on the cover of the New Philippines Magazine (1976)