Created in close collaboration with the community of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Israel, Köken Ergun’s film Binibining Promised Land (2010) documents the Binibining Pilipinas Israel beauty pageant which is organized annually by the Filipino community living in Tel Aviv. Presented on SCREEN as a single channel video, Binibining Promised Land was originally installed alongside video interviews with members of the Filipino community in Israel and posters promoting the pageant.
There are approximately 30,000 Filipino workers living in Israel, the majority of whom are working in the caregiving industry. Beauty pageants are a popular form of entertainment among Overseas Filipino Workers worldwide. Taking it’s name after the incredibly prestigious Binibining Pilipinas pageant in the Philippines, the Binibining Pilipinas Israel is a local iteration that takes place in the Tachana Mercazit bus station in Tel Aviv. The title of the film Binibining Promised Land has a double meaning. Besides it's position of "Promise Land" in a mythological sense, Israel (among Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., and other countries in the Arab Peninsula that are hubs of foreign labor) is an economic promised land from which communities of migrant workers send millions of dollars back to their families in their homelands, and are often subject to various types of abuse from their employers when working overseas. This film, while documenting the display of joy and cultural pride of the Filipino community in Israel, sheds light on the complicated way in which Filipino national identity lives within the larger ideological structure of Israeli nationalism that is foundational to the state’s political ideology. According to Ergun, who has personally been a part of the Filipino community in Israel for years, this film is an open ended project that still lives on. As the film travels from destination to destination, Ergun invites the local Filipino community to view the work.
Köken Ergun (born 1976, Istanbul) is a filmmaker, video, and performance artist. Many of Ergun’s works focus on the ways in which ritual is utilized as a means of cultural expression among marginalized communities. Ergun works collaboratively with his subjects over an extended period of time, and will often involve the contributions of ethnographers, historians and sociologists for publications and lecture series in conjunction to his art practice. Ergun has exhibited at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Garage MCA, Moscow; Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam; among others.
SCREEN: KÖKEN ERGUN is organized by Nevin Kallepalli