Julius Poncelet Manapul, Sila, Collaged sculpture, 2023 (detail)



Julius Poncelet Manapul
Curated by Dr. Marissa Largo
January 5 – April 27, 2024
Reception: Friday, January 5, 6-8 pm
A Space Main Gallery and A Space Windows

The holy trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is a Christian doctrine that expresses the threefold conception of God. The trinity becomes part of the conceptual framework for Toronto-based Filipinx artist Julius Poncelet Manapul solo exhibition, Sila/Siya/Ako. Tagalog for they/them/me, the exhibition’s title alludes to the gender neutrality that is embedded in the Philippine language as well as the colonial order of church, state, and the colonized.

From the 16th century to the end of the 19th century, the Roman Catholic Church enabled the Spanish colonial conquest and rule of the Philippines and its people. We see its residues today; from our Hispanicised last names to the imposition of the narrow definitions of gender and sexuality, and in the adoration and elevation of whiteness through skin lightening products. For the artist, these colonial ideologies of race and gender have led to oppression every day in the Philippines and in its diaspora.

Manapul brazenly reconfigures church architecture, cultural symbols, and religious iconography to assert their queer diasporic Filipinx subjectivity and does this by transforming the gallery into a theatrical Catholic church-meets-early Y2K gay dance club. Manapul collapses these two discursive spaces to create a new world in which colonial harms are taken to task through their queer decolonial aesthetic.


Julius Poncelet Manapul (They/Them, b. 1980 Manila, Philippines) immigrated to Canada in 1990 and identifies as a queer migrant Filipinx artist of Ilocano ancestry. In 2009, they completed BFA at OCAD and MFA (U of T) in 2013. Over the last decade, Julius P. Manapul has exhibited across North America and Europe. They had held positions as Associate Chair of Contemporary Drawing & Painting and are currently an assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts at OCADU. Through research-based art practice, Julius Poncelet Manapul examines eternal displacement, complicated by colonialism, sexual identity, diasporic bodies, global identity construction, and Eurocentric Western hegemony. Focusing on the hybrid nature of Filipinx culture through post-colonial realities, as well as through the gaze of queer identities as taxonomy, they study narratives specific to diasporic queer bodies; the loss of motherlands, feelings of belonging as a consequence of the colonial pedagogy and imperial power. They have presented their work at the Paradise Now Collective (2011), Nuit Blanche-Toronto (2010, 2012 and 2014), Toronto World Pride Toronto (2014), the Art Gallery of Ontario (2017 & 2022), the Koffler Gallery, A Space Gallery, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, University of Toronto Art Centre, University of Waterloo Art Gallery, John B. Aird Gallery, Propeller Gallery, PM Gallery, and Daniel Spectrum. They have also exhibited internationally in the UK, France, Germany, and the US.

Dr. Marissa Largo (She/Her) is an assistant professor in Creative Technologies at York University. She is researcher, artist, curator, and educator whose work focuses on the intersections of community engagement, race, gender, and Asian diasporic cultural production. Her forthcoming book, Unsettling Imaginaries: Filipinx Contemporary Artists in Canada examines the work and oral histories of artists who imagine Filipinx subjectivity beyond colonial logics (and features Manapul as one of the four artists in her study). She is co-editor of Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and since 2018, she has served as the Canada Area Editor of the Journal of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (ADVA). Her projects have been presented in venues and events across Canada, such as the Varley Art Gallery of Markham (2021), A Space Gallery (2023, 2017, 2012 and 2009), Royal Ontario Museum (2015), WorldPride Toronto (2014), Nuit Blanche in Toronto (2019, 2018, 2012 and 2009), and MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) (2007). Largo’s 2021 curatorial project Elusive Desires: Ness Lee & Florence Yee at the Varley was recognized by the 2022 Galeries Ontario/Ontario Galleries (GOG) Awards for best exhibition design and installation and best curatorial writing.

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