An installation of diamonds cast from sugar from Bacolod, Tiempos Muertos recounts the bittersweet story of sugar in the Philippines. The ‘Sugar City’ Bacolod is historically storied for the ‘sweet life’ of the hacienderos(plantation owners). However, like the sugar that the human body hungers for – which becomes poisonous when consumed in excess – the tale of extremes has left many others in the industry with a bitter aftertaste. Casual labourers undertake most of the backbreaking farm work for as little as S$1 a day. With impending declining sugar prices, the tiempos muertos – the “dead season” of June to September because of the dearth of work – threatens to stay indefinitely. Like blood diamonds, these sugar crystals are a treasure tilled from the earth, gleaned at high human cost.
Exhibited at Singapore Art Museum (SAM). All texts are courtesy of the artist.