Art is a green pasture. But sometimes, the artist is sown into barren land.
Down the sparse earth, under the quiet sky, he waits for a sign of life. It did not take long for the sun to shine and the rain to pour steadily, and as the artist soaks up both water and warmth, he grows a small, steadfast leaf.
The webinar “Kalibutan Seminar Node 3: Works Disclose – Materialities of Art” with Region 7 curators and moderators Jay Nathan Jore and Maria Taniguchi, and art collective Solitaryo Cinco (Khriss Bajade, Bastinuod, Mark ‘KDLT’ Copino, and John Villoria), artists Mona Alcudia, Retired Artist, and Gabi Nazareno was the twelfth session of V-CON 2. The speakers were supported by ExCon Director Mariano Montelibano.
The two previous nodes provided a walk-through of the exhibition proposals from the artists along with details on creative methods. Seminar Node 3 explored more on the artists’ materials and techniques, their project phases, and the link of such to the pandemic and global spaces.
In the wasteland of the world health crisis, Visayan artists go on thriving.
Solitaryo Cinco art collective talked about their hometown, Cebu, as they share drone shots of areas that were closed down in the onset and course of the pandemic. In their project for Kalibutan, the artists employed both digital and traditional media, with specifics of advertising as a primary tool.
Solitaryo Cinco maximized the liberal and compelling nature of street art, campaign posters, and printed image to discuss issues on urban planning for cities at higher risks of health crises and catastrophes. With high population growth rate, Cebu’s urban management is a pressing concern. Aside from interviews, physical material production, streets deployment, and documentation, the art collective made use of aerial footage, QR codes leading to research data on the pandemic, and a website for better, wider reach. Solitaryo Cinco described their project as monumental and aesthetically engaging, all without downplaying community involvement and mass education.
Even in the foreign soil of Netherlands where she took her master’s degree, Mona Alcudia found herself thinking a lot about Filipino design.
With a conviction on decolonialism and background on exotic trends, Alcudia sought to establish the Filipino identity in the global art scene. Hence, for Kalibutan, she placed the pop culture icon “Peacock Chair” and the karaoke machine into the spotlight.
The peacock chair was, as Mona Alcudia highlighted, originally a Filipino product. First made by the nameless inmates of Bilibid Prison, the chair found its way into ritzy Hollywood. She considers said product and design as a metaphor for anonymity in labor.
Alcudia’s objective is to investigate the evolving themes of authenticity in labor, colonialism and decolonialism, orientalism and hybridity in the increasingly globalized world of product design and manufacturing. Her project approach included multimedia installation between a peacock chair and Filipino karaoke.
To materialize her works in the bounds of the pandemic, Mona Alcudia opted for an interactive installation that is accessible through virtual means. She mentioned bringing online video installation into play.
Ethnic origin is integral across all practices. Alcudia evinces such. Raw talent alone might prove unstable on grounds of originality and cultural relativism. To abound in design’s hot desert, one’s ethnic identity must hold water.
While the rest is obsessed with material growth in the arts, Retired Artist pursues higher calling in introspective facets. Her practice encompasses the tangible and intangible, as she seeks to dematerialize actions while remaining in a creative context. Retired Artist’s Kalibutan performance involved sculpting carrots and sweet potatoes into flowers. She grew said crops herself, along with some corn.
Retired Artist also shared design studies for an aquaponic “papag” or bamboo structure in that same arable land. She resolved that her work is a homage to artists who grapple with daily tests. Her acts allow self-reflection, as she opens herself to sharing common concerns, toiling, redefining, reviewing, and unpacking notions, and rethinking one’s definition of practice. Art need not take a physical form. All its immaterial phases, no matter how fleeting, holds equal value as that of its existing tactile state. The general perception of art is so often grounded on familiar disciplines such as painting, that performative, dematerialized notions become short of due regard. Trimming off archaic art ideals will yield authentic appreciation and understanding across all forms.
Gabi Nazareno’s Kalibutan project is centered on large-scale graphite drawings that mimic the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. To materialize such, her works were initially erased by exhibition guests. Now that COVID-19 dawned, Nazareno was found consequently embodying the pandemic’s impact on public structures.
With mass gathering and close proximity vetoed, she introduced an impersonal, objective element. Typifying strangers, Nazareno blindfolded herself to remove visual bias and proceeded to rub out the drawing she had just completed. Her graphite works are mostly based on Bohol’s landmarks and were drawn into the rough, custom-made surface of Japanese paper and acrylic emulsion. Her method is performative, additive, and subtractive. To Nazareno, erasing is as much of an art as drawing is.
Medium buds from identity. The sacred act of scrutiny and decolonization binds the artist to his culture, medium, and practice. Societal relevance blooms from research and thorough study, and plausibility stems from community immersion. Art is not a ground for just pure aesthetics. It nurtures seeds of social concern, rumination, and ethnic linkages. Once restored to his very roots, the artist will find himself bearing fruits; even in a silent, barren land.
V-CON 2 on ‘Kalibutan Seminar Node 3: Works Disclose | Materialities of Art’ was conducted virtually on May 15, 2021 but is available for virtual viewing through the website vivaexcon.org.* (Vincent Rose Cassiopeia Sarnate)