Homegrown artist-run spaces in the Philippines take centre stage in Art Dubai Marker 2016.  

Curator-artist Ringo Bunoan’s presentation of independent art spaces in Manila is the first ever showcase of Filipino art at any major international art fair. 

Roberto Chabet, 'Trap', 2010. Image courtesy Ringo Bunoan.

Roberto Chabet, ‘Trap’, 2010. Image courtesy Ringo Bunoan.

Each year, Art Dubai‘s Marker section highlights contemporary art from a specific geographical region. The limelight is on the Philippines this year, and specifically, on the country’s vibrant non-commercial scene. Led by curator-artist Ringo Bunoan, Marker 2016 is a collaborative and charismatic affair driven by the unique vibes of artist-run culture, presenting art that encompasses a diverse range of media, styles and social issues.

According to Bunoan, the selection of exclusively artist-run spaces showcases Filipino art that goes well “beyond the common tropes of family, politics or religion”. All the artists in Marker 2016 are showing at Art Dubai for the first time. Speaking to The National, Bunoan says:

Marker 2016 is not a summary of Filipino art. It does attempt, however, to tell a story about artist-run spaces in the Philippines and offer a glimpse into its history and the various types of works and practices that are currently being shown in these spaces. This exhibition aims to resist stereotypes about Filipino art – it does not follow the usual themes or narratives associated with the Philippines.

Roberto Chabet, 'Towards 1001 Isthuses', 2012. Image courtesy of Ringo Bunoan.

Roberto Chabet, ‘Towards 1001 Isthuses’, 2012. Image courtesy Ringo Bunoan.

Anchor: Roberto Rodríguez Chabet

Anchoring the exhibition are key pieces and a major installation by the late Roberto Rodríguez Chabet (1937-2013), a pioneering artist, teacher and curator widely considered as the father of Filipino conceptual art. According to Bunoan, who curated several exhibitions with Chabet, the latter’s works serve as a point of departure for the Marker section by “draw[ing] attention to the long history of artist-run spaces in the Phillipines”. During his time at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Art, Chabet taught his students how to put on their own shows, inspiring the establishment of many important grass-root art initiatives. Bunoan tells ArtMarket BlogMag about Chabet’s legacy:

Roberto Chabet was truly an inspiring and visionary artist, teacher and curator. He encouraged and supported so many artists and a diversity of practices. He did not necessarily require his students to follow his path, but instead he challenged us to think, to question what art is, and what it is for. His work remains relevant for artists today and serves as an entry point into the understanding of Philippine contemporary art.

Drawing from his background in architecture, Chabet’s own art “revolve[d] around the transitory nature of commonplace material”. According to Blouin Artinfo, Chabet’s works and curatorial projects “opened up possibilities” for Filipino artists, allowing them to propose different modes of art-making.

J Pacena, ‘Gaps’ (video still), 2014. Image courtesy 98B and Ringo Bunoan.

J Pacena, ‘Gaps’, 2014, video still. Image courtesy 98B and Ringo Bunoan.

Artspace: 98B COLLABoratory

Established in 2012, 98B was founded as a response to the need for alternative art venues in Manila. The unique multipurpose and multidisciplinary space serves as a community, library, laboratory, kitchen and shop: according to its website, “[t]he idea is to have a setting where artists and creative individuals from other disciplines can interact and work together while presenting art, design and creativity in different ways; be it a talk, a bazaar, a publication, a meal or a simple gathering”.

Julius Redillas, 'Love of Country', 2016, video. Image courtesy the Artist and 98B COLLABoratory.

Julius Redillas, ‘Love of Country’, 2016, video. Image courtesy the artist and 98B COLLABoratory.

With ten founding members, five directors and seven active members that run the organisation, 98B is a truly collaborative initiative. Their programme at Marker 2016 displays precisely this collective spirit, featuring a collaboration by Issay Rodriguez and Katherine Nuñez as well as works by J Pacena, Miguel Lope Inumerable, Mark Barretto and Julius Redillas. Young Rodriguez tells The Inquirer:

It is a great privilege and responsibility to receive such opportunity to be part [of this program] showcasing a different side of who Filipinos are as a people and as creatives. I think to be part of this cultural exchange is a priceless gift we can give to our fellowmen especially those who live and work in Dubai.

Jayson Oliveria, 'Untitled', 2015. Image courtesy the artist and Post Gallery.

Jayson Oliveria, ‘Untitled’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist and Post Gallery.

Artspace: Post Gallery

Established in 2005, Post Gallery (taking over the previous space of sister gallery Pablo Gallery) focuses on avant-garde and non-commercial works, sporting a reputation for supporting young talented artists and providing them with a stepping stone towards more commercial platforms. The space also serves as a multidisciplinary platform that hosts music, film and other interactive events, in so doing “exploring contemporary art’s multiplicity and diverse applications” and “uphold[ing] the 90s spirit of DIY and experimentation”.

Exterior of Jed Escueta Show, 2015, Post Gallery. Image courtesy Post Gallery.

Exterior of Jed Escueta Show, 2015, Post Gallery. Image courtesy Post Gallery.

For Marker 2016, Post Gallery will exhibit paintings by Jayson Oliveria and photographs by Jed Escueta. According to Post Gallery’s blog:

[Escueta’s] method of taking stock from his personal archive are not chronologically categorized or filed but presented with an introspective distance, yet they’re all linked by a sentient narrative of lives glimpsed in a flash and memories affixed as fossils on paper, purged as image projections, what were once conceived of light are purged back to light […].

Gail Vicente and Tanya Villanueva, 'New Feelings', 2015. Image courtesy the artists and Project 20.

Gail Vicente and Tanya Villanueva, ‘New Feelings’, 2015. Image courtesy the artists and Project 20.

Artspace: Project 20

Newly established in 2015, Project 20 focuses on young up-and-coming Filipino artists and also hosts musical performances, film screenings and poetry readings. For Marker 2016, Project 20 is presenting works by multidisciplinary women artists Gail Vicente and Tanya Villanueva, who have collaborated on a series of fabric works using velvet and faux fur. The artists sewed in creases, stretched and burned the luxurious fabric, creating interventions in both the material and the traditional image of the canvas.

Thousandfold photobook wall. Photo by Mike Ricca. Image courtesy Thousandfold.

Thousandfold photobook wall. Photo: Mike Ricca. Image courtesy Thousandfold.

Artspace: Thousandfold

Last but not least, Thousandfold, also established in 2015, is an active space for contemporary photography. Operating as Manila’s first library dedicated to Filipino and Asian photo books, the avant-garde space is also a workshop and small press, filling an important gap in the local art and cultural infrastructure. The founder is Filipino artist and photographer Wawi Navarroza: under his guidance, Thousandfold is a peer-led initiative that is active both locally and internationally, staunchly committed to the creation of a contemporary Filipino photography voice.

Czar Kristoff, 'Dayong Detail Red', 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Thousandfold.

Czar Kristoff, ‘Dayong Detail Red’, 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Thousandfold.

Thousandfold’s website states that it hopes to “serve as a positive addition to [the Philippines’s] local cultural milieu by providing a platform for the development, production and promotion of formidable photographic author-works from Filipino photographers/artists, both established and emerging”. At Marker 2016 Thousandfold will present works by Tammy David, Gino Javier, IC Jaucian, Czar Kristoff and founder Wawi Navarozza.

Michele Chan


Related Topics: Filipino artists, photography, painting, mixed media, textiles, artist-run spaces, emerging artists, galleries, art fairs, events in Dubai

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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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