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Bea Camacho: The comfort of home |


Bea Camacho: The comfort of home

- Raymz Maribojoc -
Twenty-two-year-old Bea Camacho has missed the Philippines for a very long time. When the artist left at an early age of 11 for a boarding school in England, she spent seven years there before moving to the States to take up a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies in Harvard. While she got to fly back to the Philippines a few times each year, she understandably experienced intense bouts of homesickness.

This feeling permeates through many of her pieces, and is one of the reasons she took up crochet as one of the media for her work, in her junior year in Harvard: "With themes of separation and isolation, I wanted my work to address ideas of home and belonging. To me, crochet is associated with home, with warmth and security. I didn’t grow up with mothers or grandmothers who crocheted or knitted. For me, crocheting refers to a somewhat idealized version of home."

Comfort, security and the home are recurring themes in Bea’s work, as are themes of distance and disconnection. One of her more famous pieces in 2004, Enclose, involved her crocheting herself into a cocoon of yarn, which took 11 straight hours without food or water breaks to make. This was documented on film, as performance art. That piece is now part of Bea’s ongoing exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines entitled Blind Transmission.

"I started [the Enclose performance] not knowing what it would feel like or what I would be thinking about. For the first hour or so, all I could think about was how thirsty I was because I didn’t drink anything before I started so that I wouldn’t need to go to the bathroom. After that, I forgot all about having to eat, drink or go to the bathroom and I was very focused on what I was doing. The hardest part was the last hour because I was curled up with my head slightly tucked and was crocheting in a very awkward position. It was quite painful and I was quite desperate to be done with it. When it was over, I was so relieved and exhausted that I fell asleep inside the crocheted cocoon for a few minutes. It was really warm and cozy, and I actually loved being inside it."

Bea has been back since July, after graduating summa cum laude from Harvard, and has since then been thoroughly immersing herself in the country she had left for so long. "I’ve been going around Manila, meeting people, going to art exhibits and seeing bands play. It’s been awesome," she says, smiling.

It’s definitely good to be home, but Bea has also kept herself busy with her art. Besides her show at the CCP, she has projects to send to a Boston exhibit in April, to a New York show in May, and to Hong Kong in July.

Now that she’s back in her birth country, has the return affected her art and the issues of isolation they address? "My parents are now living in Singapore so I’m still not living with them. Since I had made my work in the US about me living away from my family and the Philippines, and now that I am showing here in Manila, I’ve decided to do a new piece, called Homecoming, which relates to ideas of return relationships but also questions the point of origin."

So there are still more questions, more issues for the artist. But when she tries to address them with her art, it will be from here, in the Philippines, where, Bea assures us, she’s here to stay.

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