FULL TEXT | Statement of Viva ExCon organizers on the November 6 mass gathering at Art District

This statement is intended to shed light on the occurrence in Art District that happened Friday, November 6, 2020.

In preparation for the VIVA ExCon opening slated November 8 to be conducted virtually via zoom and meant to kick off the virtual conference VCon 1, an exhibition was organized for the sole purpose of simulating a live opening for video recording.

There was no event, no invitation was sent and no announcement was made. It was unfortunate that the set attracted the usual Art District crowd and management was not able to control their enthusiasm. However, the organizers did stop the activity after sufficient takes so as to disperse the crowd. Subsequently, Art District remained closed on the following days.

To share the context of VIVA ExCon, it is one of the most sustained artist-initiated biennales in Southeast Asia. The hosting moves from island to island every two years without fail and Bacolod City has been chosen to host the 16th iteration starting this November 8, 2020 which will evolve patiently in phases until July 2021 for an exhibition program, all in virtual format. Formed in 1990 by the collective Black Artists in Asia, ViVa ExCon has striven to carve out a space and perspective for artists in the Visayas. Through its efforts to foster an inter-island ecology distinct from, although not isolated from, the art world in the capital of Manila, it has achieved over the years a collaborative and participatory spirit of art making, mutual support, and solidarity unique in the Philippine archipelago.

In fact, It has become an effective artist-centered blueprint with which other like initiatives have been patterned after.  It is the main goal of VIVA ExCon to celebrate Visayan art by bridging the islands of the Visayas so as to provide a venue to facilitate dialogues, interaction, networking and cultural exchanges, thus addressing fundamental and relevant issues among visual art communities and related stakeholders.

We care about our community and we feel it is our responsibility to try to keep the spirits of the artists alive during this unprecedented struggle. This is the very reason why VIVA ExCon is going virtual for the first time in its 30 years of existence. It now looks towards the future in ways that can best contribute to the development of the communities it serves.

With all humility, the art family extends our apology to the community for the concern raised regarding the Nov. 6 occurrence. We would like to reassure the community that as a matter of habit, Art District conforms to the mandated health protocol and consistently assists those within its reach through the Art Heals fundraising initiative to deliver aid throughout the course of the quarantine.

Thank you.

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