Art typically rises in visual forms and physical spaces, but in the dappled dusk of tactility and material sites, there is daylight on thoughts, processes, and performative notions.
The V-CON 2 webinar “Kalibutan Seminar Node 4: Exhibitions | Not Exhibitions – Timing and Placing the Present” with Kalibutan Head Curator Patrick Flores and Visayan curators Guenivere Decena and Liby Limoso of Region 6, Maria Taniguchi and Jay Jore of Region 7, and Mars Briones and Nomar Miano of Region 8 was the fifteenth in a series of virtual talks.
The speakers were supported by ExCon Director Mariano Montelibano and prior to the session, Jore offered a prayer for the late Leo Abaya, one of the featured artists of Kalibutan.
Kalibutan speaks to the idea of the world and consciousness. This conceptual light refracted from Visayan curators to their artists and was duly reflected in proposals, projects, and methods.
Patrick Flores remarked that curatorial work is not confined to exhibition-making. Possibilities are tackled in anticipating a series of relays of calibrations along the way, in light of the pandemic and the system put in place. He cited Leo Abaya’s diorama which, in the course of mediation, took a life of its own. The said work kept on evolving for the better.
Another case in point was that of Brussels-based dancer Joshua Serafin. Flores talked about offshoots of recalibration in Serafin’s archival and research materials, ongoing work for his performance documentation, and the plan for an offsite VIVA in Brussels. Simply put, the curatorial practice involves crossing possibilities and giving the artist a place to innovate and the project a chance to unfold on its own.
Probabilities encompass materials, techniques, and phases as Kalibutan artists employ installation art, digital media, film, product design, documentation, performances, drawing, painting, and community engagement within context of and responding to the present. The spectrum of practice and platforms ranged from traditional to virtual to unconventional. The curators were also led into abstraction on their perceptions of curatorial practice. They shared proposals of rendering presence and sensibility to projects without being constrained to the option of an exhibition.
Curator-artist Guenivere Decena grasped that VIVA is for the artist as her curatorial endeavors entail such thought. Decena believes that the theme on world and consciousness is a continuum that directs one towards the significance and wisdom found in being there for others.
To wit, an artist for another artist, a curator for the artist, or an artist for the community. She articulates the interbeing, this symbiosis of empathy and dependency in one’s desire for mutual understanding. Consequently, her artists Denli Chavez and Perry Argel grew towards recounting stories and answering global concerns. Chavez discussed women and gender relations and the weight of confinement and connections. Argel shared his proximity and intimacy with nature.
Decena viewed the task of the curator as humble and quiet. Reconciling ideas and forms, imputing presence to thoughts, materializing concepts, and articulating consciousness that demand the silence of self-reflection.
Liby Limoso’s perception of curatorial practice was shaped by his rural origin, and his convictions lie in the objectives of thriving, understanding the world, and embodying narratives. Growing up in the land of Sugidanon, he documents the oral tradition of Panay Mythology.
Limoso’s devotion to indigenous and cultural heritage was requited by his line of artists. EyeCan Creatives works to preserve and protect language, place, identity, memory and spirituality. AR Sculptura promotes Visayan culture and ethnic design. Ron Espinosa, Farida Kabayao and TM Malones focus on the tangible heritage of Western Visayas.
Limoso mentioned that heritage projects undergo a cycle of understanding, valuing, caring and enjoying. He emphasized the need to organize, retrieve and extend archiving materials, as there is a perennial concern over the significance of preservation of culture and heritage sites. This attempt to link the past, the present, and the future is thoroughly aided by the artists’ shift to online and virtual platforms.
Cebu-based curator Jay Jore remarked that recalibration allows for the emergence of something new from the current health crisis. According to him, curatorial practice is woven into a social fabric that conditions the quality and kind of output.
This social dimension of curatorial practice became apparent in Solitaryo Cinco’s urban documentation, street deployment, and interviews and Mona Alcudia’s multimedia installation of a peacock chair and Filipino karaoke. Both projects permit creating participatory, experiential activities in digital and hybrid modes and allow the exhibition of the process, not just the product.
Jore said that curatorial work navigates through a network of human relationships, a nexus of agencies, and in the pandemic setting, such practice becomes iterative rather than procedural. In his curatorial mediation, changes were made as artists took careful note of their works’ content and accessibility. Curatorial work aptly considers accidents, exceptions, and experimentations, and pays close attention to conflicts and nonconformity to preconceived plans.
Maria Taniguchi approached curation with an open mind. She thought of said practice in the cognition of an artist as someone with an intimate knowledge of the artistic process and challenges in the various stages of research and production. Taniguchi viewed the pandemic as a destabilizing force that restricted usual movements and usual approaches to being in a project.
Working with Retired Artist and Gabi Nazareno amplified her concept of bounds and subtractions in the context of the present. The artists’ techniques involve carving, cutting away, or erasing some parts of existing objects. This is akin to the pandemic removing proximity and altering norms. Taniguchi shared that one of the earliest moments of Retired Artist’s Harana was a performance at her wedding, wherein she cut pieces of her wedding dress to be taken away by her family and friends.
Nazareno’s act of drawing and erasing is a parallel gesture of loss and a mark of things beyond one’s control. Taniguchi touched on the fragility of performance, moving in and out of whatever it is that we think constitutes art. Recentering is also a kind of recalibration effort. Retired Artist is tending to a plot of land where she has been growing her materials, registering the passing of time. Nazareno works on another set of large-scale graphite drawings after the act of rubbing out her previous ones.
There is a restoration of practice and a cycle of coping; a promise of recovery. Taniguchi’s take is that good artworks are almost always in the state of being contingent, perhaps in ways that are related to chance or in terms of responding to the unexpected or the unknown. The artist has to make do with what the situation brings and generate new ways of making it.
Interested in turning the art world from a cosmos into a kalibutan with its shifts, turns and slippages, curator Mars Briones thoroughly assessed his methods. He focused on bracing the roles and agencies of artist, curator and audience in the simultaneous pull of distance and proximity. There is on sociality, subjectivities and modes of collaboration in the dawn of a remote kind of curatorial practice.
Briones channels the idea of curation into synergy. He is resolved that the art world could benefit much from more circulation of ideas, objects, practices, individuals and roles within the art and culture scene and outside it. His artists Popo Amascual and RV Sanchez proposed interaction and collaboration in the early and final stages of their projects.
Briones talked about sharing readings with Popo Amascual in the concept development phase for Hingalo. In Figure Drawings, RV Sanchez places himself as a dynamic subject and his remote participants a performing audience. Curation is caring for ideas. Briones looks forward to seeing more collaborations among various people in transforming the art world.
Nomar Miano highlighted how curatorial work makes one question the default assumptions of art. In his conversations with Regional Art Forum (RAF) and Soika Vomiter, Miano observed how collaborations shape mediation and redefine classic notions of art. Practice starts as an independent set of studies, and ends in modality of the flesh, of the human body.
In this regard, RAF physically engaged with geographical spaces and Soika shared his Panic Box with a few locals, all while abiding by health protocols. Results of these first hand methods and primary data gathering point to enduring modality as an instance of place and time. Art occurs on the ground, at any given moment. Miano remarked that curation is not just about selection. It is a form of intervention on how to present art, taking account of all possible spaces and junctures.
As an answer to whether exhibitions are viable in the present, curators and artists gradually tilted towards possibilities of both process and product. Some have booked sites for physical objects and performances, while others thought of research and immersion as a novel, independent form of an exhibition.
In retrospect, the preceding nodes included conceptual and material increments from featured artists. Head Curator Flores said that this final node complicates the idea of the exhibition, as it need not be the only intelligible materialization of a curatorial work although it has its potential as a specific modality.
Kalibutan initiatives bask in midnight sun with rays of versatile dynamics, that amid worst nights of health and art crises, the sun never sets. ‘Kalibutan Seminar Node 4: Exhibitions/Not Exhibitions – Timing and Placing the Present’ was conducted virtually on June 12, 2021 but is available for virtual viewing through the website vivaexcon.org.* (Words by Vincent Rose Cassiopeia Sarnate)