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Future perfect: Hyperformance

MANILA, Philippines - While Rhine Bernardino has been exhibiting herself for the sake of performance art, she is startled by how much she has revealed of herself on the Internet. “It’s amazing how much you can say about a person’s life just by Googling,” she reacts to my awareness of her blog — “random, three to five-minuter” flash poems, verbal and visual diary and diarrhea.

Her profile says “Filipino, and so much more.” Indeed, Bernardino’s persona is beyond citizenship — especially because she has been traveling — and beyond the medium she is known for. Her portfolio shows that she can light a film, she can do cinematography, and she can do photography. In a half-prank, half-serious online shop, she is selling sunset prints for five to 60 dollars.

“(My work is) mostly dealing with endurance and using the body as your medium… I try to extend and explore the limits of the human body and aesthetic that you can communicate just using that,” she begins to speak like a true academe artist. Since she shifted from her initial course, political science, to film, Bernardino has fully embraced the life of art, perhaps a little more than others, having earlier shown a tendency for the experimental.

Of her early work, she remembers her teacher saying, “This is actually not narrative. It’s more poetic.” That’s when she started making such short films — saturated in color, lush in production design. Her music video for Us-2 Evil-0’s Christopher and Gay was awarded in Ateneo Video Open 2010. Her work BDSM (“Because Those Who Do Not Suffer Are Masochists”) was shown along with the work of famed experimental filmmakers John Torres and Raya Martin’s in a tribute show for the late film critic Alexis Tioseco.

Bernardino is hungry. “I can’t sleep without watching at least one film a day,” she says, and Hollywood fare isn’t excluded. She has also worked on commercial music videos for the likes of Karylle, Hale, and Regine Velasquez. It’s all experience. At the end of the day, she has her own obsessions that define her more than anything — like the number 24. In a recent show, she photographed herself depicting a combination of two “Stations of the Cross” accounts to produce 24 shots. She says, “It has more to do with the film strip — 24 frames per second — and the idea of (having) 24 hours (in a day).” She is, incidentally, 24 years old.

Her screaming in wha-ahh-aaahhh, exhibited in Tokyo, sounds as celebratory (although sometimes despairing) as the youth she enjoys. In her film thesis — a performance of 24 strangers kissing, each for 24 hours — she is exploring the world. Public performances in the pipeline and the non-gallery exhibit series — inventory that she co-organizes — are only beginning to open more doors, adding more hyperlinks to the persona that is Rhine Bernardino.

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