At Home in the World – ‘Microcosmic Orbit’ by Noel Ed De Leon

Noel Ed De Leon in his attic. (c) noeleddeleon archives Photo: Godwin De Leon, London 2020

17 July, 14 August, 18 September 2020

Introducing, Noel Ed De Leon, winner of our At Home in the World open call for the Lectures & Courses category. 

Curated by Eva Bentcheva, this project activates De Leon’s attic, recently converted into an exhibition space and housing his vast collection, into a ‘microcosmic orbit’ of exchange. He invites guests into his attic virtually to connect its contents and respond via their own work around “being at home in world” and being “multi-positioned” across Southeast Asia, the UK and Germany. Since 2012, De Leon has sought to build conversations and collaborations with artists, art historians and curators across Britain, Germany, Holland, France and the Philippines who share an interest in invisible histories connecting Europe and Asia. 

Invited ‘inside’ is a series of guests who are also culturally active in the Southeast Asian communities across Europe and whose work engages with diaspora, migration, and archiving. Working in collaboration with Berlin-based artist Pepe Dayaw, cultural anthropologist/activist Tran Thu Trang, and London-based artist Erika Tan, De Leon has drawn together a selection of objects, ranging from original equipment from the First and Second World Wars collected in Britain and the Philippines, to found objects, tribal artefacts and remnants of artworks, and chosen three core themes directed at each guest respectively; Sheltering, Wrapping and Temporalities. Through this project he will reveal how objects reveal histories of exchange, conflict, and interdependence between Southeast Asia and Europe.

To find out more, read Bentcheva’s interview with De Leon on the pieces on our Stories page and view the videos below. Our Project Manager, Alessandra Cianetti wrote three pieces, reflecting on each performance: Sheltering, Wrapping and Temporalities.

“Microcosmic Orbit” was commissioned by the Bagri Foundation as part of the project At Home in the World. You can see the full list of At Home in the World commission winners on the Project page here.

Sheltering with Pepe Dayaw

Wrapping with Tran Thu Trang

Temporalities with Erika Tan


Noel Ed De Leon is a visual and performance artist whose practice spans archiving, installation and live art. His work explores the themes of history and memory, engaging with questions of how historical conflicts, migrations and exchanges may be traced through surviving historical objects. His installations and performances have been featured in the group exhibitions Corpografias (2016) at the A-Side B-Side Gallery in London, Should the World Break In (2017) at the Fundación Joan Miró in Barcelona, M.A.P. Archiving Asia (2017) at the Live Art Development Agency in London, UnAuthorised Medium! (2018) at Framer Framed in Amsterdam, Archives in Residence: Southeast Asia Performance Collection (2019) at the Haus der Kunst in Munich Germany. His practice was also the subject of two major solo exhibitions Tokens of a Time Gone By: Reanimating History as Art (2014) curated by Eva Bentcheva at the Philippine Embassy of London and 1,976 Objects (2019) curated by Patrick Flores at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum in Manila. Since 2015, Noel has co-directed Batubalani Art Projects with Eva Bentcheva, a non-profit organisation working to promote Philippine art across museums and universities in Europe.

EvBentcheva is an art historian and curator. She holds a PhD in Art History from SOAS, University of London. Her research focuses on transnational performance and conceptual art practices, particularly connecting Asia and Europe. Together with Noel Ed De Leon, she is co-director of Batubalani Art Projects, working to promote Philippine art in curatorial practices and academia in Britain and Germany. She has held research and curatorial fellowships at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London, and was the Goethe-Institut Postdoctoral Fellow at Haus der Kunst in Munich. In 2019, she co-curated the exhibition ‘Archives in Residence: Southeast Asia Performance Collection’ with Annie Jael Kwan andDamian Lentini at Haus der Kunst. She was previously a Visiting Research Fellow (2016) and Adjunct Researcher (2017-18) for the Tate Research Centre: Asia, with a focus on conceptual and performative practices in Philippine art during the 1960s-80s

Pepe Dayaw is an artist and anthropologist of Filipino heritage, born in Manila, migrated to many places and now resides in Brandenburg, Germany. He obtained Master’s degree scholarships in International Performance Research at the University of Amsterdam and Warwick; Performing Arts and Visual Culture at the University of Alcala / Museum of Reina Sofia; as well as Art History, Creative Writing, and Philippine Art Studies from the University of the Philippines. He is a trained dancer, having learned traditional folk dances from the Philippines while being part of a church. Singing, speaking many languages, hospitalities, ritual-making and facilitating: social skills that he learned in the school of life forms part of his repertoire as a storyteller. He developed methodologies and pedagogies of lifelong learning through a migrant cooking concept of leftovers (Nowhere Kitchen) and many other repertoires of cooking the body (Social Dance Laboratory). He co-founded the Sari-Sari, a community of artistic lives and practices that collaborate on ecologies of performance and economies of friendships.

Tran Thu Trang studied social and cultural anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin. Her practice oscillates between cultural work and grass root political activism. Since 2013 she has been part of the Berlin Asian Film Network, a platform for Asian diasporic (and beyond) filmmakers and artists. Since 2017, Tran has been an pro bono board member of the Migrationsrat Berlin e.V. Between 2016 and 2017 she was a member of the free theatre network cobratheater.cobra, part of the project Haus der Digitalen Jugend (House of Digital Youth), funded by Doppelpassfonds. She is currently in the co-founding process of the intersectional feminist NGO Connected Differences. 

Erika Tan’s practice is primarily research-led and manifests in multiple formats (moving image, publications, curatorial and participatory projects). Recent research has focused on the postcolonial and transnational, working with archival artefacts, exhibition histories, received narratives, contested heritage, subjugated voices and the transnational movement of ideas, people and objects. Selected exhibitions: As the West Slept, (Performa, New York 2019); By All Estimates (4A Sydney 2019); Paralogical Machines (Wei-Ling Contemporary, KL 2019); The Diaspora Pavilion (Venice Biennale 2017); Artist and Empire (Tate/National Gallery Singapore 2016/7); Come Cannibalise Us, Why Don’t You (NUS Museum, Singapore 2014); Thermocline of Art (ZKM, Germany 2007); The Singapore Biennale (2006); Cities on the Move (Hayward Gallery, London). Erika is a lecturer in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art (London), Associate Researcher with Decolonising The Arts Institute (UAL), and currently a Stanley Picker Fine Art Fellow, Kingston University. She is currently developing a film and installation project titled Barang-Barang which resonances of the notion ‘belongings’ across different Southeast Asian languages and its connection to personal collections, as well as mythologies and asserting difference.