Fickle skies, keen energy, restive forms

The skies were fickle – clearing one moment and pouring the next but our enthusiasm was steadfast. Encounters happened as planned last 13 June! It was choreographed by Ea Torrado and performed by Daloy Dance Company.

The rain rendered the performance vigour. Ea Torrado likened it to ‘dwelling the womb’ specifically when the dancers entered the grove, alternating between movement and stillness, flitting in and about the goddesses, rendering air and space legible with movement and voices.

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They emerged from the Vargas Museum’s west porch in two files, chanting and marching. Their animal heads were curious, if not amusing counterpoints to their martial like movements. All was pulsing energy pronounced through strength of limbs that sliced rain and air, the rhythm of dancers’ voices lent spark to a fast encroaching night.

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It is this straining against odds and the very elements that was the most remarkable character of the performance. We were drenched but oddly entranced by bodies weaving in and out of the grove, around the goddesses’ inert and viewers’ unsettled yet expectant bodies.  This atmosphere of chance placed in relief the exactitude the piece demanded of dancers. The dimming skies and pouring rain echoed their feral cries and sober silence, their rolling and falling forms contrasted strongly with austere marches and lively gestures.

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It was an evening of strong and memorable contrasts, the weather and the piece coming together fully, eliciting from us a similar straining – because how else can life be without constraints? It is only in the latter where we come together through the wholeness promised by the goddesses Pleiades, however fleetingly.

Encounters was a singular offering to this moment.

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Photos Eric Guazon

 

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Encounters with Pleiades

Viewer interaction makes public art projects.

The LAWAS curatorial team has organised a series of events around the works Pleiades, Pagpamulak and Pusod.

The first collateral event happens on June 13, Wednesday 6PM at the Vargas Museum Grounds and CAL LawnEncounters is a piece by contemporary choreographer Ea Torrado.

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Daloy Dance Company, photo Sipat Productions

It developed around Agnes Arellano’s suite of goddess sculptures Dakini, Innana, Kali and Magdalene. The goddesses appear descended in a grove at the Diliman campus, strong verdigris forms amidst lush green growth.

Encounters explores dualities of human existence and is rooted in Ea Torrado’s exploration of dance as emancipatory ritual. In it, dancers descend into the depths of being with the body as channel for the divine. The encounter is coming together of corporal flesh and greater divinity.

LAWAS Torrado collateral poster 31 May

The dance performance is shaped by active energy and force, listening and rest, presence and song. The intervals are marked by dancers heeding the call of the goddesses and becoming like prophets conveying a holy secret. It reflects on human anxieties and the speed we careen towards greater progress or utter destruction.

Agnes Arellano’s goddesses remind us to be rooted – perhaps, that which we frantically seek is in all of us.

Choreographer Ea Torrado is the recipient of Alvin Erasga Tolentino Koryograpiya Award in 2014, Remedios De Oteyza Choreography Award in 2016 and Asian Cultural Council Grant in 2017. Her creations manifest in choreographies, film, installation, site-specific work, and improvisational performance. She is the Artistic Director of Daloy Dance Company.

Daloy Dance Company interweaves dance, theatre and improvisation to create daring and evocative contemporary dance. Since its establishment in 2014, Daloy has made waves in the Manila art scene with critically acclaimed and exceptionally varied body of work. With its strong collaborative thrust, the company has worked with notable visual artists in various museums and galleries in the Philippines, and has enjoyed diverse audiences and performed in a range of dance and art festivals locally and abroad in Japan, Thailand, Korea and USA.

 

Pagpamulak, Pleiades, and Pusod at the UP Diliman Grounds

We formally launched three art projects inside the Diliman campus yesterday.

Pagpamulak means ‘to blossom’. The work gathers white painted concrete body parts at the edge of the Sculpture Garden. The pieces make a playground, where we can climb a belly, see saw on a pussy, and rest on a penis. These pieces take from artist Lee Paje’s 2011 project where vagina shaped chocolates filled with rice wine were offered to audiences during an exhibition opening.

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Mark Justinian’s Pusod (navel) is at the UP Lagoon, a reflective disk during the day and a marvel of coloured reflections at night.

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Agnes Arellano’s goddesses Pleiades descend from the heavens, their ethereal forms render the grove otherworldly.

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LAWAS launch event April 11

LAWAS comprises three public art projects for the 2018 UP Diliman Festival of Culture and the Arts. Pleiades, Pusod and Pagpamulak explore the intricate process of dwelling the body. All three are located at visible and accessible areas inside the sprawling Diliman campus.

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The intimate registers of the senses, faith and the sacred feminine, and play through vision are expressed in art pieces by Agnes Arellano, Mark Justiniani, and Lee Paje. They probe the limits of the body, often imagined a vessel or a contained space. How can art whether installation, sculpture, or site specific forms become extensions of the human body through experience? Art that incorporates multi-dimensionality in its engagement of body and space becomes a technological cipher by which the human form is reworked and imagined, beyond containment and towards amplification.

Artist Agnes Arellano gathers her goddesses in a grove. Pleiades are cast stone goddesses, four of seven of the open star cluster most visible to the naked eye. The works follow the artist’s lifelong search for the sacred feminine. Through them, she hopes to rekindle the age old values of nurturing, generosity, and compassion.

Lee Paje constructs a playground of intimate forms in her Pagpamulak project. It means ‘to blossom’ in the vernacular. It takes from a 2011 series where vagina-shaped chocolates were filled with tapuy or rice wine and were eaten during the exhibition. Viewers will be invited to not only sit and lie on but also play with the stylised sculptures that mimic the body’s intimate parts.

Mark Justiniani installs Pusod at the UP Lagoon. The reflective disk rests on earth and reflects the skies above. It is likened to an orbit in a frozen moment, a well of clouds becomes close to eye and touch during the day, while a deep crater is revealed at sun down. The structure is a navel, an invisible umbilical cord between the heaven and earth.

LAWAS is curated by UP Department of Art Studies faculty Tessa Maria Guazon and Cecilia De la Paz. The works will be publicly launched11 April 2018 and will be on view until end August 2018. A series of events will be organized during June, July and August.

Exhibition Views

It has been a cycle of two-month intervals for museum projects since 2017. All have been challenging and exciting!

Traversals/Trajectories: Expansive localities was initial project for the Philippine Contemporary Art Network (PCAN) I traveled to Ilocos province, Dumaguete, Bacolod, and Baguio. I met many young artists who told me about projects they are currently doing, and more important, about issues that matter to them.

It was a conscious decision to have an intergenerational mix of artists in the exhibition and for the works to converse with each other. It was important to work with women artists, to have works both new and old, and to revise iterations of works to respond strongly to the exhibition context. We made use of the Vargas Museum’s well lit space. I took the terrazzo flooring as inspiration for the graphic component of the exhibition.

Here are a few exhibition views, more information at the PCAN site:

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Carzen Esprela’s Bag in a Boat (2016)
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A view of poet and artist Dumay Solinggay’s performance All you saw were my breasts  (2017) during the opening and Jose Tence Ruiz’s Skool (2016)
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Martin de Mesa’s mixed media installation Noel’s Shrine (2017) and Kitty Taniguchi’s oil on canvas painting Feeding Aries (2013
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Isha Naguiat’s installation Traces (2017)
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Faye Abantao’s Blank Stares , Empty Faces, Hollow Life series (2017) and Rocky Cajigan’s Fabric of Activism’s installation (2017)
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Jose Tence Ruiz’s editorial cartoons from the 1980s addressing regional (Southeast Asia and the world) issues, and Zeus Bascon’s Dead Masks (2014)
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Henrielle Pagkaliwangan’s pen and ink drawings 1 Elf Gravel and 1 Elf White Sand (2017) and Kat Palasi’s photograph series Manila Region (2008-2017)
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A still from Panx Solajes’s video piece Himurasak (2016)

 

Place of Region in the Contemporary – Traversals/Trajectories: Expansive localities

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Still, Himurasak Panx Solajes 2017

Traversals/Trajectories: Expansive localities is the exhibition I am curating for the initial project of the Philippine Contemporary Art Network. It opens at the Vargas Museum 8 December 2017, 4PM and will be on view until 27 January 2018.

More information on the Philippine Contemporary Art Network:
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UP Vargas Museum opens Place of Region in the Contemporary, the first project of the Philippine Contemporary Art Network (PCAN) built through three nodes in a network: Knowledge Production and Circulation; Exhibition and Curatorial Analysis; Public Engagement and Artistic Formation. The project endeavors to activate a network to coordinate a range of interventions in contemporary art in the Philippines and to cast a sharper profile for it on an inter-local and trans-regional scale. It is keen to confront the requirements of research and discourse; curate art and subject the curatorial gesture to critique; and propose modes of catalyzing the public sphere of art and in the process harness the energies of its agents.

Patrick D. Flores, director of PCAN, introduces the project Place of Region in the Contemporary with an anthology of artist-curator Raymundo Albano’s texts, alongside his poetry and curatorial and graphic design. It addresses the concerns of Albano in the intersecting fields of the creative, the critical, the cultural, and the curatorial. It is to these that Albano speaks: the discourse and practice of art making and instilling it with presence in the world of ideas, exhibitions, and the particularities of lived life.

Roberto G. Paulino coordinates the Knowledge Production and Circulation component of PCAN. For Place of Region in the Contemporary, Paulino initiates an archival research on Philippine artists Jess Ayco (1916-1982), Santiago Bose (1949-2002), Abdulmari Imao (1936-2014), and Junyee (Luis Yee Jr) (born 1942). Born or based in the regions of Bacolod, Baguio, Jolo, and Los Baños, the artists represent the disparate conditions and production in Philippine modern and contemporary art.

The Exhibition and Curatorial Analysis node of PCAN is coordinated by Tessa Maria Guazon. An exhibition is presented to explore ideas of the region and the different “practices of placeness” in Philippine contemporary art by tracing numerous strains of place making in the works of artists from different localities across the Philippines. Collateral activities are organized with the exhibition, including a discussion platform to examine impulses underlying the curatorial —those that frame and activate localities in their assertion of claims to place against an overarching globality.

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Within the frame of Public Engagement and Artistic Formation, coordinator Renan Laru-an outlines the ground for accumulating and reviewing resources (institutions/infrastructures) and references (actors/agents) for the research direction of PCAN. Initially, it elects three ecologies of practices: Los Baños through the Philippine High School for the Arts and the International Rice Research Institute; Siliman University as an interface to liberal (arts) education in Southern Philippines; Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Art at Mindanao State University through the journal archives of the Institute of Islamic Studies at University of the Philippines, Diliman.