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.

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.



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



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







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.

LAWAS banner 02 April

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.

Marking Expanse

Plot is about making form as it is about carving space. The rolling terrain of the sculpture garden makes Plot an apt title. The garden reminded of my childhood vegetable patches. Plot has interesting references to action, movement, and design. Plot then may well be understood through these inflections. It connotes active stance, lending itself well to metaphor, and creative imagining. It can mean ‘to mark space’ or ‘to stake boundaries’.


As artistic strategy, Plot subverts common associations with hatching a secret plan. Instead of plans or in the case of this project, art works made in confined spaces, their making was in a commonly and publicly accessed space. Altogether, the works by Junyee, Reg Yuson and Leeroy New aimed at engaging diverse viewers in the process of reforming given space and its elements. Read more

Harness Hope (Imagination by Plet Bolipata)

Excerpts from the catalogue essay:

Plet Bolipata installs ImagiNation, combined installation and functional sculpture in a new site. Akin to the voyage of Noah’s vessel, Bolipata’s pieces ply a path within a city of incessantly changing forms. First installed in a pocket park inside a corporate enclave, the suite of forms is now stationed in a university lawn. Visiting the sites at roughly the same hour, with day gliding into the nest of night, I was not at all surprised to see a similar event. Children climbed the animals in the pocket park inside Bonifacio Global City, couples and families lingered in the seats despite the arid heat. This time, students lounged in them.

Plet Bolipata in distinct lyricism breaks the tedium of urban rhythm in this commissioned piece. In a manner that contrasts with the sterile, modernist pieces that dot our cityscape or the distant and indifferent monuments of our public parks, Plet composes this outdoor piece with uncommon lightness, quiet humour, and play. Imagination in all its seeming sparseness summons spectres of world past and reminds of ominous state of a world on edge.


Indeed, if public art is to fashion a fitting reply to the heady uproar and chaos of city life it can do so by providing idylls that invite reflection and elicit involvement. Confronted by a precipitous decline in resource and the alarming gulf between lack and plenty, treading lightly and mindfully assumes a rightful course. Plet Bolipata adequately responds, embodying lightness, eschewing monumentality, shying from the spectacular and deploying with deft awareness and skill subtle contrasts between form and site. This delicate crafting of experience urges us to slow down, to hold back, and finely sift through questions of what it means to be human in these bewildering times.

A City’s Mind

I typically write on Tuesdays and take from the pace each Tuesday sets in motion.
I near the tail end of a review, because the world of imagination beckons. I often share my fascination with Manila through an examination of urban contexts and artistic practice, specifically what the latter offers to altering life conditions in the former for the better. The following is excerpt from a journal article. It specifically records a project I was involved in and considers the threatened nature that life has become in Manila’s impoverished districts.
Agham Tao Volume 19 was published in October 2010
Invisible States, Peripheral Sites: Artistic Negotiations of the Urban
Cities and their inherent rhythms are simultaneous backdrops and agents to lives unfolding. These birthed conditions are often grounded in contradictions, often compelling and threateningly overwhelming. Lives in cities are shaped by the dualities arising from pleasure and fear, hope and despair, excitements and anxieties. These contradictions are echoed and articulated by spatial forms, urban imaginaries and life ways subsequently produced. These uneven forms and formations inhabit both imagination and real life spaces that result.
Alongside these exist, discourses and imaginaries that attempt and thwart the real repercussions of power structures. Beyond mere backdrop or site to social formations and collective action, the city and the forces that make can be restructured as active agent in the making of emergent and critical practices. In this essay, I propose public art through its rethinking of issues relevant to public life as one such practice. While public art’s efficacy is assumed negligible and difficult to measure, I argue for its episodic engagements and interpretations of shared concerns as possibility of re-visioning the city – art’s own mode in redefining and ‘remaking’ urban life conditions.
Artistic process is proposed as altered vision and in the specific context of the Urban Plan/Duyan project later discussed, a mode of ‘surfacing’ and of making visible by way of consciousness-shaping and fostering of collective action the real life conditions of Metro Manila’s impoverished communities.
Tacit to this argument are possibilities art offers for shaping consciousness, the formation of critical audiences and fueling collective action. I chose Alma Quinto’s work because it realized a landscape of networks through collaboration. Urban Plan/Duyan engaged many tiered publics, taking advantage of long standing relations alongside chance element of ephemeral engagements and making room for prolonged inquiry of hazards of urban living. While Alma Quinto initiated the collective engagements that helped materialize later versions of  her urban plan, collaborative practice significantly defined her artistic roles as catalyst and ethnographer. Public art and its redefinitions of art, artistic roles and authorship destabilize modernist notions of an insulated and highly individualized art making, a crucial repositioning of the artist within social life and her cultural sphere.