Jong Pairez (b. 1978) is a media artist and researcher based between Manila and Tokyo. In 2014 he initiated Civilisation Laboratory (CIV:LAB) – a tactical convivial space dedicated to research and design for sustainable and alternative living. He then presented this initiative as a Painting thesis in U.P. College of Fine Arts and received The Most Outstanding Thesis Award for pushing the boundary of his Studio Practice towards contemporary Social Practice in Art. Before arriving in the Social Turn he usually, works with digital and analog technologies in articulating his condition as a foreign migrant worker in Japan. Pairez independently produced digital video works and 8mm films bordering to documentary filmmaking. After a while, he decided his role – as a foreign migrant worker – to be in itself an artistic practice. Pairez is currently working on his Postgraduate Thesis at the Graduate School of Global Arts in Tokyo University of the Arts.

Artist Statement:

There is a situation in the game of chess where the only possible way for a player to move is not to move. Germans call it Zugzwang! This term as a combinatorial game theory in chess aptly describes my situation as an aspiring artist.

I see myself in a situation that everyone is forced to produce and accelerate knowing that any possible move forward will result in a disastrous consequence – Zugzwang! This is the reality of Capitalist accumulation that formed the epoch I languish. However, applying Zugzwang in my art making helps me critically scrutinize this notion of productivity and allow myself to initiate critical distance from the culture of making.

I believe the opening to various possibilities of new worlds can be achieved through the creative impulse of “not making as making.” As Nakamura Hiromi, curator of Tokyo National Museum of Photography said: “Not coming up with an answer does not mean zero – it means infinity.”

My works reproduce rather than represent infinite possibilities of new worlds embedded in our fluctuating future present. By gathering pre-existent forms, remixing forms and creating new meanings out of these forms without bothering to produce any tangible fetish objects I hopefully convey in my work (whether it’s an installation art, video, constructed situations, and social sculptures) the production of sustainable and significant life different to the culture of accumulation where we are forced to move towards the brink of collapse.


Treachery of Objects (2016)
Set of Instructions, Realized Instructions



Treachery of Objects is a set of instructions intended for the curator of the exhibition “ESC: ILOVEYOU VIRUS” to carry out by themselves. Instead of letting the viewers carry out the instruction, which the DO IT! exhibition spearheaded by Hans Ulrich Obrist intend to do, the artist wants it otherwise. He reserves the viewers, instead, to destroy the realized instructions whether the idea of destruction is taken literally or figuratively.

Borrowing from Antonio Gramsci’s critical thought on creativity expressed in his words, “Destruction is difficult. It is as difficult as creation.” it makes this set of instruction-realized works in a state of “in-between” as artist Thomas Hirschhorn translates Gramsci in his recent exhibition about aesthetic of ruins.

This condition of in-between portrayed by the artist aptly describe our shared epoch of precariousness and uncertainty – the ultimate crisis that perhaps remind us how biological life was first formed. Thus, the notion of crisis here is taken as a critical moment in which recent cultural, political, and economic formations are being remade into a new historical conjuncture – again as described by Gramsci. Taking, for example, the recombinant activity of the virus destroying the host cell to create a new form of life.

The following set of instructions is categorized under the name “Treachery of Objects” in reference to Rene Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” to take the discourse embedded in the works into a concrete reality that is neither a representation nor abstraction. However, each object corresponds to a particular QR Code leading to another reality that is virtual. Thus, the reality is also put in the context of in-between.

The instructions for the curator and assistants are easy to carry out. In fact, the artist left the instructions open to many possibilities for the person in charge to actualize it in his/her own terms. The examples illustrated in the instruction are not to be taken seriously they are just references. However, the only request of the artist is to have a free wifi access for the viewer.


Swarm Bibliotheque (2015)
Constructed Situations, Radio, File Sharing
Ethos, Bathos, Pathos Exhibition
Vargas Museum, University of the Philippines Diliman



Swarm Bibliotheque was a tactical library composed of information materials temporarily loaned from the personal library of various people. However, the materials were selected according to the categorical research goal of the project, namely: Survival, Sustainability, Ecology, and Resistance. The shared materials varied from printed matters to digital and the participating public were encouraged to use it whether they download or photocopy the materials. Further, the tactical library also includes a radio station where people from different academic fields within and outside the university premises exchanged dialogues and discussions related to the exhibition topic. This piece was part of the series of exhibitions and events under the ecologically-conscious arts festival Project Bakawan.


After Piet Mondrian (2014)
Uploaded contemporary books collected online and contained each in a QR code for free downloads, Discursive radio event on Copyright and Knowledge Sharing

2014-07-05 12.35.40

Listen Audio Here

After Piet Mondrian is an Internet based participatory performance piece that highlights the sharing of pirated electronic contemporary book files contained in QR codes. These codes were displayed on the gallery as wall pieces reminiscent of Piet Mondrian’s modernist paintings. The audience with their QR code scanners installed in their mobile phones were allowed to download the files for free. Thereafter, a discursive event on knowledge sharing and new commons ensues through a designated online radio station as part of the performance piece. This work was part of the group exhibition titled “The Heist Conference”.


Dystopic Future Memory (2014)
Artistic Research, Installation, Radio, Events
Studio Arts Thesis Exhibition
University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts






The Monstrous Arrivant (2013)
Installation, Video, Constructed Situations
Kanto Artist-run Space




Test Films (2006)
8mm Colored Film, Color Photos, Live Sound, Slide Photo Films
Shirouto-no-ran No. 12, Koenji, Tokyo




Multitudfest (2009)
Constructed Situations, Collaborative Performance



Postalbox Posties (2008)
Public Intervention, Decals, Installation