Performance-Maker, Educator, and Cultural Worker

October 23, 1986 – November 19, 2021

Joseph Keith “JK” Anicoche was a performance-maker and educator who worked at the intersection of art, culture, and development.

JK was the artistic director of contemporary cultural laboratory Sipat Lawin Inc., a founding member of anti-disciplinary collective Komunidad X, and the festival director of Karnabal: Performance and Social Innovation. His art practice ranged from developing black box theater performances to devising works with and in communities in disaster areas.

JK was born in San Fernando, La Union. A Theater Arts graduate of the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) at Mt. Makiling, he took up BA Film and Audio-Visual Communication at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He also participated in the Youth For Understanding International Exchange Student Program held in Osaka, Japan.

Anicoche’s CV lists 14 pages of accomplishments, achievements, and credits over the several decades of his career. As a director alone, he had directing credits on at least 25 plays and theater performances in the Philippines and abroad, including Singapore, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

Among his many projects and endeavors, he was co-devisor for Sipat Lawin Ensemble and Too Many Weapon’s docu-theater A Wake: Kids Killing Kids performed at the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne, Australia in 2014. His work with Sipat Lawin Ensemble – a documentary-making performance entitled “Gobyerno” – was presented in South Korea, Japan, and Australia. He was an artist-in-residence of the Monsoon 2015 Asia-Australia-Europe Performance Residency in Bundanon and Sydney, and Saison Foundation Tokyo in Japan (2016).

JK was also one of the featured artists in the Asian Artist Interview Series; a documentary on his art practice premiered at the Tokyo Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama in February 2016.

Anicoche was also a fellow of Japan Foundation Asia Center’s Hands Project: Creativity and Disaster Education (2014-2015) doing research on creative practices in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Japan to create programs for communities in collaboration with artists, scientists, and humanitarian workers in the ASEAN.

He received the Davis Peace Prize USA in 2019 for his “community performance for peace” projects, the Ginebra Ako Para sa Entablado Award in 2018, and a De La Salle University Public Intellectual for Democracy Discourse Series Fellowship Grant.

He was awarded the Asian Cultural Council Fellowship in New York City (2018-2019) for his research on performance and civic engagement. He served as co-curator and co-facilitator for Adam Artist laboratory in Taipei, Taiwan (2019), and he was also a performance-maker for Island Bar Shanghai, Sand A/Isles Project for Festival/Tokyo 2019, and Asia Topa 2020 in Melbourne.

In 2020, JK led the online migration of Virgin Labfest 2020 as its festival director and curator, and co-facilitated Dans:LAB Singapore – Philippines Satellite in July and Tokyo Festival’s Asian Performing Arts Farm Laboratory in October. He founded kXchange.org virtual center for contemporary performance Philippines in December 2020.

JK developed programs and performances with/for PHSA, Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Department of Education, the British Council Philippines, Paz y Desarollo (Peace and Development), Japan Foundation’s Hands Project for Disaster and Creativity, Humanity and Inclusion (Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar and Pakistan), among others.

He was also a prize-winning storyteller. Anicoche was a voice artist for children’s television, including GMA 7’s Art Angel, Batang Bibbo, Sabadabadog, and Tropang Potchi among others. He was the host of QTV11’s Children’s Television Show MIYA in 2007 and played various roles for children’s shows for different networks. He became storytelling sector representative of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People in 2014. JK was also the founder of Project Banig: Storytelling Everywhere Campaign that encouraged volunteerism and storytelling in communities. It has seven chapters nationwide.

When Anicoche passed away, choreographer and dancer Ea Torrado shared these words on her Facebook account: “Salamat sa mga mensahe mo sa akin after ng shows dati, ng mga ganap, mga imbitasyon para kumain at magsaya, at mag-usap. Ang sarap na nakasama ka pa, kahit sa Zoom, nitong pandemic… Salamat, JK. Gagawa kami at gagawa. Maghihilom at maghihilom. Maglalayag. Salamat.”

Perhaps the most poignant tribute to him was a poem penned by writer Frank G. Rivera, that ends:

Sayang at maagang pinutol ang sanga
Wala na ang lawing doon namahinga.
Dating munting buto kahimat namunga,
Hindi inalmusal ng mga agila.
Subali’t maraming sisiw na iniwan,
Sisiyap-siyap pa sa pinamugaran.
JK Anicoche, hindi namaalam
Ang agila’t lawin, nanganghihinayang.
Paalam, JK Anicoche!

Categories: Obituaries

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