On display at Maysles Cinema throughout Congo in Harlem 10, a Sneak Peak of:

Persona non Grata: In a Floating World of Radiant Sorrows and Perfumed Warfare

By Carlo Ontal


The project proposes to use aesthetic approaches in conflict areas to generate the unfamiliar and the dislocating — as gateways to new perspectives on the narratives and economies around violent conflict.

I employ the modern Photo Studio as a Disturbance-Generating Machine. By intentionally mis-placing the Studio in conflict zones throughout the border region between eastern Congo and Rwanda, I set this invasive technology of beauty fabrication and brand manufacture at combative odds with its environment. And against a collective set of assumptions about photography’s responsibilities.

In this performance of created reality, and inclusive of the inevitable disturbances that come from when an art-making machine is deployed, seemingly against reason and presumed usefulness.

- Carlo Ontal


Artist bio:
In an earlier life under martial law in the Philippines, Carlo Ontal became acquainted with authoritarian systems of governance and state propaganda masquerading as public communications. Consequently, the only logical response was an art practice in film, photography and improvisational theater. Upon rejoining his family in the US, he worked in film production and freelance photography in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. Since joining the United Nations in 1998, Mr. Ontal has served as a principal Video Producer for UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. His personal project, “A Theater of Conflict: for a Floating World of Radiant Sorrows and Perfumed Warfare” is a 2015 Creative Capital grant awardee for Moving Image.