Within the Philippines, wag-wag (surplus or second-hand clothing, sometimes also known as ukay-ukay) is a popular and cheap means of acquiring fashionable bargains, and the city of Baguio, in northern Philippines, is known for its profusion of wag-wag stores. Here, the use of wag-wag points to the resourceful and creative practices of ‘making-do’ in less affluent communities, but the wag-wag business also threads together shadier strands of international commerce. Philippine cities like Baguio have become trading hubs for excess and unwanted clothing, including counterfeited fashion brands, which wealthier nations dump offshore.
In Wag-wag Wonderland, Carlo Villafuerte displays an intimate understanding of fabrics and textiles, having been raised by a mother who worked in a textile export-processing zone. From the material most readily available at hand, the artist has created a modern-day tapestry that stitches a personal narrative together with the story of Baguio. Scenes of the city's bustling night market, the local eatery, and the hallucinogenic Angel's Trumpet flowering shrub, are interwoven alongside the artist's imaging of the self: as a single father, as an artist in the present moment and in older years to come.
Carlo Villafuerte (b. 1978, Philippines) works predominantly with found and second-hand fabric, thread and textiles that he hand-stitches into complex and fantastical compositions that capture his recollections and impressions of the city of Baguio.