It was never a question of how lofty art is, but of how rooted, relevant, and responsive it is to the local community and the rest of the world.
March 27 Session: Part One
The V-CON 2 session commenced with the music video launching of Martin Miravalles’ socio-political track, “Tiktik sa Dulom.”
The webinar “Kalibutan Seminar Node 2: Artists Explore | Intimacies and Communities of Practice,” with head curator and moderator Patrick Flores and artists Rhine Bernardino, Leo Abaya, Joar Songcuya, and Joshua Serafin, was the first part in the eighth session of V-CON 2. A few minutes into the webinar, VIVA ExCon Director Mariano Montelibano gave insights to the conference. Ma. Teresa Buenaventura and Noemi Lacambacal from Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies interpreted the session in sign language.
Art is personal as it is universal. It is creative as it is cognitive. Art is disciplined imagination. It runs free in the fields of culture, context, and global contribution. Bernardino, Abaya, Songcuya, and Serafin talked about their personal and professional identities and how the roots of such anchor them and their proposals to Kalibutan.
Rhine Bernardino experiments with the self and the body. She considers the body as an art medium beyond the physical and material as she responds to global issues through it. Bernardino mentioned reconnecting with the Visayas through a community-based research project. She seeks to introduce a sense of collectivity to communities and leave a lingering trail of interconnectedness.
Leo Abaya’s practice is as diverse as our cultural traditions. He was into curation, teaching, design for film, theater, and has worked with printed media. Abaya melds imagery with intellect so perfectly, the audience is hoisted to cogitation. He reaches out to societies in effecting consciousness of cultural ferment and imperialism. Abaya believes that practice is shaped by and is always responding to a larger world.
Seafarer Joar Songcuya described his art making as documentary and biographical. He invested in marine engineering and art making for almost a decade, and since 2013 has converted his cabin to an art studio. Songcuya discussed the progression of his open art style from figurative, impressionistic, naive works, to atmospheric spaces. His experiential expositions include paintings and installations. Songcuya highlighted that the human drive to create is his saving grace from life’s worst storms.
Joshua Serafin, a ballet dancer, aims to decolonize the body. His modern choreographic works jive with memories of distant past. He shared about his spiritual background as a child, and his early knowledge on mythology, traditions, and precolonial belief system that were faithfully translated to performances. Serafin was able to transfigure local experiences to global consciousness and entity. His practice is currently multiform and in his art, Serafin merges ethnicity and childhood.
The artists remarked that there is always a tension between form and context, and that the tension must be performed. Being an artist equates to being constantly haunted by a changing world that would feel progressively unsettling, unless one releases the tension in the form of physical and allegorical works.
There is also a call to merge the self with the world through culture and common faith. However, the universe offers this endless queue of variabilities, limitations, and possibilities, that the artist occasionally finds it hard to align himself. To certainly respond to an uncertain world, Flores concluded that there is a need to closely attune the self to Kalibutan.
March 27 Session: Part Two
The webinar “Island Special: Uswag” with artists Sam Penaso, Wyndelle Remonde, and Panlantawon art collective (April Villacampa, Delio Delgado, Joni Alontaga, Martha Atienza, Roberth Fuentes, M. Alinney Villacastin aka Khokoi) was the second part in the eighth session of V-CON 2. The speakers were joined in by facilitator Lester Ouano, Bohol coordinator Jeffrey Ronald Sisican, Cebu coordinator Jay Nathan Jore and Bantayan Island coordinator Anthony Jake Atienza.
Artists have ecological systems that overlap with personal spheres. Connections with family and peers, work conditions, and professional influences build creative identity. Political concerns, mass media, cultural ideologies, environmental changes, and global issues form ethnic and universal accountability. Links are bi-directional, as minor and major shifts may affect external environments or even modify the artist’s internal work approach.
World health crises opened novel platforms. Artists are becoming a breed of digital innovators and traditional masters.
Multi-disciplinary artist Sam Penaso explained the gravity of local and national exhibitions and art residencies abroad. Artists ought to contextualize and situate art in new, foreign sites, even spaces online, so that all too familiar ideations of the self and the world could be seen with fresh eyes. This is innate in the spiral nature of art practice.
Graphic illustrator Wyndelle Remonde remarked that art is a form of visual expression. It is the real image of an artist’s internal conflict, his external world, and his universe of probabilities. Remonde regards his art as autobiographic. He is drawn towards experimentation and unorthodox methods; evident in his use of silkscreen printing along with conventional materials.
Panlantawon art collective started their recent projects with collaborations between members. Their concepts deal with issues on climate change and land ownership, corresponding physical solutions, and immediate response. They tackle local concerns through global lenses and vice versa. (Text by Vincent Rose Cassiopeia Sarnate)