Art Radar asks the up-and-coming curator to highlight 4 emerging artists and collectives shaping the arts scene in the Philippines.

As part of Art Radar‘s Watchlist series, curator Lian Ladia spotlights Filipino artists whose innovative and experimental practices embrace the global and local, confronting the transformations taking place in their home country.

Lian Ladia. Image courtesy Lian Ladia.

Lian Ladia. Image courtesy Lian Ladia.

Lian Ladia (b. 1979) is a curator and writer based in Manila, Philippines, and an important new force to watch. She was one of six curators from around the globe selected to take part in the de Appel Curatorial Programme for 2014-2015. She also co-founded Planting Rice with curator Sidd Perez, a contemporary art platform in Quezon City that presents contemporary art discussions not available to mainstream publications. Its curatorial projects feature emerging artists and repotentialised spaces – whether online, in print or in public space. This July 2015, Planting Rice hosts “Curating-in-context” in Manila, a discursive event and exchange of curatorial discussions between Slovenia/Croatia and Southeast Asia.

Ladia holds a BA in Philosophy from De Lasalle University, Manila, and a Post Baccalaureate in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has completed curatorial residencies in Manila, Berlin and at The Helsinki International Curatorial Programme (2014). She has participated in the World Biennale Forum 1 in Gwangju (2012), the CIMAM (International Committee of Museums and Collections of Modern Art) conference on New Directions for Contemporary Museums in Rio de Janeiro (2013). Ladia was recently awarded a Fellowship in Curatorship by the Asian Cultural Council, New York.

Zeus Bascon, 'POWER', 2014, plastic pearls, thread, net, curtain rod, 56 x 104 in. Photo by the artist.

Zeus Bascon, ‘POWER’, 2014, plastic pearls, thread, net, curtain rod, 56 x 104 in. Photo by the artist.

A Local/Global Discourse

We first ask Lian Ladia to share some insights into the contemporary art scene in the Philippines. As the curator tells us:

The Philippine contemporary art scene is anti-thetic to the typical western art scene, and falls under an alternative economy mostly run by artists or the commercial system which can be a contradicting push and pull of circumstances. Artist groups and collectives in the Visayas (Bacolod, Dumaguete), Mindanao (Davao), Manila, and Baguio City – are the South, Centre and North of the archipelago. Within Manila, it operates on its own system of economy nurtured by private monies, private museums, and independents. Manila on its own probably has two to three openings and events each week, supported by a small artist network, and privileged market system grounded on a fragile, ambivalent or passionate discourse.

Globally it has the oldest tradition of value exchange of local/global discourse since the early 18th century with histories of exchanges via the colonial routes of the galleon trade, or artist-expatriate migrations in Europe and the US as colonial/colonist tendencies. Regionally it is active within the art fair market and systems of exchange, auction houses in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore housing probably significant archival histories of contemporary art activities in Asia. Presently the private economy marks an irreverent up and down, static and shifting – precarious, problematic and exciting to build up on in terms of problematizing a collective system of course within a post-colonial rut.

Ladia shares with Art Radar her list of four emerging Filipino artists and collectives to watch:

Tanya Villanueva, 'Painters Hands' and 'Blanc', 2014. Photo by Rico Quimbo.

Tanya Villanueva, ‘Painters Hands’ and ‘Blanc’, 2014. Photo by Rico Quimbo. Image courtesy the artist.

1. Ganggo

Ganggo is a collaborative group of six artists, including Catalina Africa, Zeus Bascon, Kat Medina, Gail Vicente, Marija Vicente and Tanya Villanueva. Ladia points to their first collaborative show in July 2015 at PAN///, a project space in Manila initiated by 98B COLLABORATORY and Panpisco Sales Inc.

As the group explains about their mission in an event listing covering the show:

Ganggo is an entity that lives through six individuals who share a common practice of painting and feeling… We have healthy discussions about our thoughts on art, and share with each other our life updates, as a way for us to gain a deep and personal understanding of our joints as a single body. The Ganggo Organ is chatroom where we meet and have non-linear discussions. It’s like a crystal ball that the members speak to and see into.  

Catalina Africa, still from the "Temple of Accumulated Errors", 2014-2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Catalina Africa, still from the “Temple of Accumulated Errors”, 2014-2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Tito & Tita, for the exhibition "Articles of Disagreements" at Lopez Museum, 2014, Process of testing and negotiations with the group. Image courtesy the artists.

Tito & Tita, for the exhibition “Articles of Disagreements” at Lopez Museum, 2014, Process of testing and negotiations with the group. Image courtesy the artists.

2. Tito & Tita

Tito & Tita is another collective – a group of filmmakers and photographers loosely comprising of Shireen Seno, Timmy Harn, Jacyn Esquillon, Pam Miras, Gym Lumbera, Jippy Pascua, Charles Salazar, Raya Martin, John Torres, Malay Javier and Mikey Red.

Ladia describes the group as:

young and inspired by either the post digital, or cognitive aspects of cinema, the group has soaring individual practices with a life support of each other as cast and crew of each’s directive project. Collaboratively, they’ve also endeavored to create work not focused on authorship but inspired by layers and layers of references from 70’s and 80’s Filipino cinema, photography or the beginnings of the new wave.

Tito & Tita, for the exhibition "Articles of Disagreements" at Lopez Museum, 2014, Process of testing and negotiations with the group. Image courtesy the artists.

Tito & Tita, for the exhibition “Articles of Disagreements” at Lopez Museum, 2014, Process of testing and negotiations with the group. Image courtesy the artists.

As individual filmmakers, their works have been featured in various film festivals and art fairs, including the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2006-2013), the Museum of the Moving Image, New York (2012) and Documenta in Kassel (2012). As a collective, they have exhibited at the Ishmael Bernal Gallery, U.P. Film Center (2012), Green Papaya Art Projects (2013), Blanc Gallery (2014), Silverlens Gallery (2014) and Lopez Memorial Museum & Library (2014).

As the collective explains on their website, their work is about:

redefining independent cinema and photography in Manila via an enthralling transformation of images and disarming practicality, amidst all the symbolism, surrealism, and a variation of experimental techniques.

Tito & Tita, 'Casual Encounters'. Residency at Green Papaya Art Projects, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Tito & Tita, ‘Casual Encounters’. Residency at Green Papaya Art Projects, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Gino Javier, Ambot 45 35mm (solidgold200) Bell&Howell bf35 (plastic camera), 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Gino Javier, Ambot 45 35mm (solidgold200) Bell&Howell bf35 (plastic camera), 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

3. Gino Javier

Ladia gives the next slot in her watchlist to the emerging photographer Gino Javier. She describes Javier as:

A photographer with an aesthetic of ones’ experience of browsing through family photo albums, and the utility use of instamatic cameras. Gino Javier’s poignant photographs are part coming-of-age, part integrally sub-urban Manila’s experience of the realities of domestic or personal manifestations of a life surrounded in concrete, or a group of friends within a periphery of networked experiences.

Gino Javier, Konam ya konam 35mm Memo PN-951D (plastic camera), 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Gino Javier, Konam ya konam 35mm Memo PN-951D (plastic camera), 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

The Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) recently held a solo exhibition of Javier’s unique photographic works. As the CCP writes:

There is a certain sense of visual awkwardness that pervades throughout Gino Javier’s photographs. Perhaps it is due to the oblivious, preoccupied, or startled faces and candid postures of his subjects. Maybe it is because of the noticeable lack of editing necessary to make an image appear picturesque or even just interesting enough for Instagram.

Javier holds a camera “like a hidden gun”, in other words, as the CCP says, “just aim and then fire. They [the subjects] are not quite dead, only immortalized unwittingly.”

Miguel Puyat, 'DIY Speakers', 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

Miguel Puyat, ‘DIY Speakers’, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

4. Miguel Puyat / Roman Soleno / Indy Paredes

For her fourth choice, Ladia points to three artists who have recently started to collaborate. In February 2015, Miguel Puyat, Roman Soleno and Indy Paredes collaborated with overXout for “Trade and Upcycling Workshop”, a component of the exhibiiton “Ethos, Bathos, Pathos” at the UP Vargas Museum. The public workshop aimed to share the skills necessary for utilising and transforming objects commonly considered as trash.

Indy Paredes, 'Alienation of Spaces', 2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Indy Paredes, ‘Alienation of Spaces’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Miguel Puyat and Roman Soleno created furniture for the collective meeting of anarchist groups for "Ethos, Bathos, Pathos", a collaboration with overXout for Project Bakawan, UP Vargas Museum, 2015. Photo by Pat Nabong.

Miguel Puyat and Roman Soleno created furniture for the collective meeting of anarchist groups for “Ethos, Bathos, Pathos”, a collaboration with overXout for Project Bakawan, UP Vargas Museum, 2015. Photo by Pat Nabong.

While each artist individually has a thriving practice, Ladia tells Art Radar that Miguel Puyat, Roman Soleno and Indy Paredes have collectively:

… in their recent shows created similar moments where inspirations arise, may it be from the question of use of utility in sculpture, or manifestations of the dire straits of living conditions seen through a lens of either punk or anarchist sensibilities of direct action.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Filipino artists, emerging artists, curators, contemporary art in the Philippines, profiles, lists

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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