Pat Mahaney is an interdisciplinary artist who works in video, animation, and performance. They grew up on the unceded lands of the Pocomtuc people, known as Western Massachusetts. Mahaney engages with themes of family histories, childhood memories, and diasporic melancholia. They draw inspiration from their Filipinx-American identity; Cultural traditions, stories, and objects operate as a shared visual language in their work. Pat’s work is complicated by the intersectional histories of Native American people and their efforts towards decolonization, as well as the resilience and resistance of Indigenous people across the globe. Mahaney creates art as a form of self-expression and a tool for activism, bringing light to historical and interpersonal narratives that would be otherwise erased from dominant society.

I AM ONLY SEEN WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING is a three-channel video performance installation. I invite my audience to kneel or sit inside the constructed space, and interact with my performance. The enclosed curtains carve out a pocketed space in the gallery for viewers to be held securely with their deep and hidden truths. Literary critic Andrew Leong proposes an “epistemology of the pocket” as opposed to queer theorist Eve Sedgwick’s “epistemology of the closet.” Leong describes the pocket as a smaller space that “due to its proximity to the body, ought to be more ‘private,’ but because of its placement on the body, is subject to public view.” Leong illustrates the experience of queer Asians who seek to keep their desires private, so as to not risk losing their ethnic communities in racist America. However, their all-too-small shelters are more likely to be exposed rather than concealed.
     Nurtured by a close-knit family of mothers, titas, ates, and ninangs, Filipina women in my life performed the brunt of domestic work in and outside of the household: cooking, cleaning, caring for children and the elderly, preserving tradition, and maintaining familial ties. I connected their efforts to the Filipina domestic workers, cleaning services, and nannies who work in some 130 countries around the world, sending money to their families back in the Philippines. My video performance embodies the societal invisibility of marginalized people who have been systematically and individually erased from a racist and patriarchal society. Raised in a Catholic family, religion also served as a crucial Filipino cultural identity, as well as a tool of imperialism and power. I internalized narratives of sacrifice, selflessness, and penance as the highest forms of morality. Ritual and spirituality became grounding elements in my life—even as they diverted from religion—while sacrifice and restraint became central themes in my life and in my work.
     Today, I hold many secrets. I strive to create an intimate environment where my audience can feel safe, held, and cared for, while I begin to disclose some of those secrets to them. The process is both painful and healing, as I share an intimate window into the hidden world in which I reside.

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