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Jet Pascua: Echoes of Departure

Updated: Mar 20


Words & photos: Grace Orbon-Emmelot

Experiencing an art exhibit is always stimulating, allowing me to indulge in my affinity for art. Recently, a friend, Macel, shared details about an exhibition of a Filipino artist on our Common Ground Facebook group. This platform is dedicated to bringing together artists and creative individuals who share passion and potential collaborative work. As an avid art enthusiast, I was immediately drawn to learn more about Jet Pascua. I know he is a Filipino artist residing in Tromsø, Norway, and I had no prior knowledge of him before Macel's post. 

I reached out to Jet and had the chance to speak with him over the phone. During our conversation, he apologised for responding late to my messages and mentioned that he was busy on the exhibition's opening day. The evening we talked, he was outside looking for a place to eat when we spoke. As a fellow Filipino, I understood our mutual apologies and the "Ok lang" (It's just fine) gesture, which is typical in our culture. Sometimes, I find myself annoyed when I switch to unnecessary over-politeness, a habit I have attempted to break for years. I am curious if Jet perceives the same thing. The supposed quick call lasted until he finished dinner and returned to the hotel where he stayed. It was a pleasant, relaxed, and fascinating discussion on both of our works, living in Norway, experiences, issues, and stances. Jet is very easy to talk to. His intellectual and humble demeanour made a great impression, leading me to decide "I must" meet him in person. However, going to Oslo is challenging for me regarding travel time and cost. I made my utmost effort to be present on the last day of the exhibition as I knew he would be there and a discussion regarding his work and other exhibiting artists would occur. Fortunately, I had a photography job on the same day I had to be in Oslo. I was excited to see Jet's work and learn more about his creative journey.

In photo: Jet Pascua, Ida Røden and Rona Krogh of Baerum Kunsthall

Sunday, March 10th, is the last day of the exhibit. A few friends were also present at that event. We had the pleasure of listening to Jet and Rona Krogh from Baerum Kunsthall and the exhibiting artists Ida Rödén and Eleni Kamma as they talked about their work. It was an insightful and inspiring experience. After the discussion, I had to leave for my photography job and promised to return because I wanted to sit down and talk to Jet. I knew he was exhausted in the evening, but he still accommodated the request to speak with me.

"Echoes of Departure" shows the short film "Hendiatris", which is part of the artistic research project "Abandon". Pascua's goal was to fully grasp the complexity of his family's many stories of parents who have abandoned their children, with a desire to understand the factors that shaped the relatives' decisions and actions.

Jet Pascua's Echoes of Departure deeply resonated with me as a Filipino immigrant who left an ailing country during the pandemic. While Jet's works are based on his family's migration experiences, he also highlights the generational migration of Filipinos. In contrast, none of my immediate family members have ever left the Philippines, and I am the first to experience the Filipino diaspora and its complexities. My parents passed up opportunities to work abroad when we were younger. My father once told me he did not want to leave the country because he did not want to have a broken home. My mother also had the opportunity to work abroad, but she declined due to my father's objections. Though I have seen relatives and other families get broken by the separation, I used to feel bad that things may have turned out differently for me and my siblings if my parents had taken advantage of those opportunities. I also wonder if those decisions can keep a family unbroken or if parents who have not left yet drowned themselves in excessive work somehow correspond to the discussion of neglect by leaving their children in the hands of nannies or other caregivers.

Jet Pascua's "Echoes of Departure" helps me contemplate the Filipino flight from a new perspective as an immigrant. My takeaway: I felt exhausted and enthused as I drove home. My thoughts were scattered and unresolved, and I pondered what-if scenarios. In retrospect, I have more questions about my family and life, the now and the future. Nonetheless, I am now among the 10% Filipino population living abroad, driven by migration factors.

It's remarkable to see how the lives of Filipinos carry a heavy burden. They're away from home, trying to make a living, and everyone feels the immense pressure of needing to succeed. After all, we all believe that success or returning a good life for families left behind is a way to make up for leaving our homeland or families.

Echoes of Departure opened at Bærum Kunsthall on the 15th of February until the 1oth of March 2024

In photo: Jet Pascua at the Bærum Kunsthall, Oslo, Norway

Art is valuable to society. It can transform the world by altering our perceptions, introducing new ideas and values, and taking us on a journey through time. Art has the potential to raise our awareness of social issues and promote acceptance by bringing people together, regardless of their backgrounds. Whether created or experienced, art offers a unique way to understand different perspectives and inspire people to make meaningful social changes.

It's amazing to have the opportunity to get to know someone like Jet—he's so unassuming, and his work is incredibly moving. As an artist from the Philippines and Norway, he's accomplished so much over the years. While I don't know Jet very well yet, from our conversations about his work and standpoint, I find it truly relevant and warrants being shared widely.

Jet Pascua's works encompass various mediums, including sculpture, installation, video, film, performance, drawing, photography, and painting. Jet is also involved in activism and organising his artistic production. He founded and directed Small Projects, a non-profit art initiative established in Manila in 2001, and later moved to Norway in 2011.

Jet is an accomplished artist who earned a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo. He also holds a Master's in Fine Arts from the Bergen Art Academy and completed the Norwegian Artistic Research Program, a PhD program in Artistic Research. Jet is a member of several prestigious art associations, including the Norwegian Artist Association (NBK), the North Norwegian Artist Association (NNBK), Artists in Tromsø (KIT), and the Forbundet Frie Fotografer. He has previously served as a North Norwegian Artist Center (NNKS) board member.

Jet is represented by The Drawing Room Gallery, Manila.

In photo: Cherokee Dawn, Grace Emmelot, Jet Pascua, Macel Ingles

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