Ana Garcia – My Way (17/08/2022 – 17/09/2022)


Please join us to mark the opening of My Way, a new exhibition by Ana Garcia exploring the resonance and influence of Philippine karaoke culture in diasporic communities.


Karaoke holds a significant place in Filipino culture. Whether celebrating over dinner or enjoying a restful evening after a busy day, it is common for Filipinos to settle into the living room, gravitate towards the Magic Mic machine and TV. This experience has grown so common and beloved that it has become a distinct trait of Filipino identity not only in the Philippines, but even more so for those who choose to migrate. Using sculptural strategies, photography, and audio visual recordings of Filipino youth produced at the Audio Foundation, Ana Garcia lenses this familiar tradition through their experience of growing up between two (or more) worlds, producing a project which explores Filipino karaoke as experienced by a new generation of Filipino migrants.

In My Way, voices call across the AF gallery space, the South Pacific Ocean, and multiple generations, belting with confidence the lyrics from OPM (Original Pilipino Music), the classics of the 1990s, all the way through to contemporary Top 20 hits. For Garcia the song selections of the participating singers reflect an inherited cultural outlook and manifest a shared and collectivised memory of karaoke experiences with family and friends:

“Although it seems they are chosen simply out of love for the music, on a whim or from memory, it is precisely in these seemingly mundane or random choices that we see a reflection of who we are and where we come from.”

These are not merely videos presenting another’s words and images to follow along with, but portals into a culturally significant practice possessing distinctive gravity for Filipino people young and old. Here, karaoke song lists present alternate narratives and real stories that invoke more than sentimentality, initiating an act of reflection which calls not only to memory or tradition but also for the need to think more deeply about what identity means today.

Alongside the symbolic echoes of tradition, the thoughts and decisions of the participants in choosing their song suggest to Garcia the emergence of an additional, contemporary cultural identity which she engages further through the documentation of the familial spaces of participants and their families where karaoke is typically enjoyed. By examining the intergenerational connections represented by karaoke sessions and considering the role these connections play in the formation and cultivation of cultural identity for Filipinos in a contemporary, Globalising social context, Garcia is able to ponder the processes through which identity is created and preserved in diasporic communities, exploring the role karaoke continues to play whether in Tāmaki Makaurau or Manila.


Opens: Wednesday 17 August, 5.30pm with refreshments provided by Liberty Brewing Company and karaoke facilities provided by The Audio Foundation
Hours: 12 – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday
Closes: Saturday 17 September


Being far from home, immersed in a new culture with survival at your doorstep, the seemingly simple experience of karaoke transforms into a cultivator of self and identity. For the 1st generation, this link to tradition is an anchor to home and ties one back to where they feel they most belong. For the next generation, those always caught between two worlds, its impact is more complex – a double edged sword. No doubt, it is a cherished and iconic memory for most, surrounded by family and friends, but it is also associated with pressure and stress from childhood, where one is forced to present their talents to others. For those who have followed, karaoke has become distanced from their culture and better known as a pop culture pastime, characterised in the selection of K- and J-pop as the popularity and dissemination of these genres rapidly increases. Through this evolution, we can see how one’s cultural identity today is affected by the slow distancing from one’s native tongue, traditions and culture, while these links to a shared cultural space persist.


Ana Garcia is a migrant storyteller and interdisciplinary artist seeking to grow and build a migrant ātea through her work: a space of common ground where conversation and connection can take place both for migrants and non migrants. Originally from the Philippines, Garcia draws from her experiences growing up between what is foreign and what is familiar. Through a process of re-presentation she is able to process her own journey, but also help other new generation migrants to do the same.