Dada Docot

The Un/Natural State of Things

Dada Docot

Our family home in the province rings with silence – piled up in several nooks are stacks of boxes sent from overseas as gifts to the few who have been left behind; toys once owned by my cousins are left unattended, broken; the once lively factory for weaving baskets, which for us kids was a playground during our summer holidays, has become musty, and is now the subject of ghost stories.

It seemed inevitable. Like the rest of my family members, I had to leave, too. Like them, I had to sift through my belongings and decide which objects to take and which to leave. Indeed, packing can be a torture, for you can only take with you a fraction of the memories you would like to have handy. It was even more heartbreaking this (third) time, for I took on the task to weed out those objects, damaged by nature and time, ignored and forgotten all these years by others who had left before me.

The Un/Natural State of Things is a series of photographs of decomposing books, which were once owned by my family members. I focus my lens/attention on old, neglected possessions – objects that provide glimpses of my family’s history. Now bug-infested and severely damaged by frequent flooding, these books are among our souvenirs from a long time ago, from before we all got caught in this complex world of international migration.


Dada Docot explores issues of the personal and of space within the different contexts of international mobility. Looking at migration as an arena where citizenships and identities are performed, re/defined and re/asserted, her photography and film works focus on the intricate and the intimate. The stories that she seeks to share arise from self-reflection, herself being a member of a rural-to-urban family of migrants, who later moved to various countries across the globe. Originally from the Philippines, Dada obtained her MA in Human Security Studies/ Anthropology from the University of Tokyo in 2008. She recently moved to Vancouver for her PhD studies in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.