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By Matthew Villar Miranda
The Herberger Institute’s ASU Art Museum shares playlists from artists, curators and museum staff on Spotify. These playlists feature music that inspires their work or pairs with museum events and exhibitions. This is the story behind ASU-LACMA Fellow Matthew Villar Miranda’s playlist.
As a closeted, Filipinx-American kid in a small rapidly suburbanizing town in the Mojave Desert, I obsessively made playlists to sound the awakening of my many identities. I dedicated albums to impossible crushes, soundtracked my favorite (homo)erotic fan fictions, and scored the troves of unrealized music videos I dreamt up while staring out windows ad infinitum.
My mom would say music is in our blood. My grandfather Manuel P. Villar, who has also been called ‘the father of Philippine Recording,’ started VillarRecords in 1950 in Manila; it was known for publishing, distributing, and sponsoring indigenous folk music, forming the foundations of what would become the national genre of Original Pilipino Music (OPM). The label not only championed local voices but also imported new forms of music such as disco and R&B innovated by black and brown communities in the US. The birth of these genres charted the intimate flows between the Philippines and the United States, not just in material goods, but in the ‘cosmopolitanizing’ of their cultural products. Disco holds a sacred place in my heart for its shimmering camp, funky exuberance, and glittering radicality; most importantly, it holds a critical historical memory in the Philippine diaspora. Its freewheeling sound made visions of utopia possible in a tumultuous era of widespread poverty and violent disappearances during the Martial Law Period of the 1970s.
Spilling tea at a bar, cutting a rug at the club, and brunching with the girls turned to ‘super-spreading’ events in the face of COVID-19. But as my queer elders who have survived the compounded injuries of the AIDS pandemic and the social death of homophobic neglect have taught me, it is not the first time our community’s vitalities would be cast as threats to public health. In a matter of months, I have witnessed mass sicknesses, folding economies, sinophobia, the concomitant attacks on Asian-Americans, and the largest and most life-affirming uprisings in defense of Black Lives in modern history. My social isolation flared to pleas for justice: my private mourning swelled to public outrage. I am still managing the limits of solidarity, what it means to stand with without claiming traumas that are not of my own blood; what it means to be dissident in a time of lockdown, where publicity is increasingly virtual, and body-to-body empathy is bounded.
I spend most of my time in the solitude of my small studio apartment. A familiar place for me, the loneliness of the proverbial teenage bedroom. As the title suggests, “Care-N-Tine” centers care in its sonic universe with a focus on LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC artists who are the pulse of revolution and transformation. As someone who works in museums and studies art, I look to artists for articulation. Music grants access to pasts I could never experience, subcultures I could never embody. It eulogizes lives lost, reminds me of present joys, and paints panoramas of futures I still dream of inhabiting.
Follow the ASU Art Museum on Spotify for a curated suite of Spotify playlists from artists, curators and museum staff that offer a different way to experience the arts.
ASU-LACMA fellow shares playlist for this moment was originally published in ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.