Thursday ∗ 01 Sep 2011

beyond the penis, do we care about Pinoy art?

we don’t. but let me give you some proof.

Enjoy Division is a group exhibit not just with a wonderful title, but which had a curatorial note by Antares Gomez Bartolome that the Light&Space Contemporary gallery decided to put down.

the said note was critical of Malaysian curator Adeline Ooi’s assessment of Philippine contemporary art which looked down on us, i.e., “We already know you were conquered by the Spanish, sold to the Americans, raped by the Japanese and totally fucked over by Marcoses” but which praised artists influenced by Roberto Chabet. (that article was up at businessworld which now requires you to pay to see its archives. bleh.)

since Light&Space Contemporary’s censorship of the curatorial note, artists of Enjoy Division have decided to take down the exhibit.

it seems about right that they do, given the fact that there is no intelligent response from the gallery — at least none that’s been made public — other than what’s here.

via @Antares Gomez B. on Facebook (August 29)

Dear Light & Space Contemporary,

I am posting this essay for purposes of establishing a dialogue. Kindly reply with your reason/s for taking the essay down. So far, all I have is a forwarded message from Buen Abrigo, one of our organizers, who received a message from you. It reads: “Ano ba nangyari? tinangal namin yung writeup nyo, sablay sya men, sabihin nyo sa writer nyo, d namin susuportahan yung writeup, di pwde i publish gamit anglight and space. Maganda sana at solid yung show pero panira lang yung writer, gusto mo magusap tayo mamaya para malinaw sa inyo kung bakit d approve yung writeup.”

it’s interesting here how a show is judged as “maganda at solid” extraneous to its a curatorial note. the next step would’ve been for the gallery to explain their reasons for saying yes to this exhibit to begin with — what exactly did they think it would be about? — because they seem to be surprised about that note, when it could only be an integral part of the process of putting up that exhibition. of course it’s entirely possible that the process is different for this gallery, and that they were really truly surprised, then maybe the question should be: why? what was so wrong about an essay that critiques a foreigner’s take on Pinoy art?

and really, how do we deal with the notions of the curatorial note being separate from the exhibit it curates? though maybe let’s start by talking about the difference between the curatorial note and its writer: sablay yung write-up? panira yung writer? ganda.

via @Antares Gomez B. on Facebook UPDATE (August 31):

During our exhibition group’s meeting yesterday evening, we decided to ask the gallery for a written explanation for their decision to ban the essay. We received two text messages from them.

“Right din ng gallery na tanggalin ang mga bagay na negative or nakakasira sa gallery at sa mga tao na involved dito, ayaw namin makisama sa drama nyo kay ooi”
-Pow Martinez 30 Aug 2011 9:43pm

“Pwede naman palitan yung exhibit text nyo na walang name dropping na negative na sinasabi.”
-Pow Martinez 30 Aug 2011 10:08pm

We decided to ask if these two messages constituted the official statement of the gallery as they were rather general and vague.

We then received a telephone call from Pow Martinez where Buen Abrigo explained that the works could not sacrifice the essay, that the works were the manifestations and elaborations of the essay’s sentiment and vice versa, and that the criticism of how certain parties are distorting and exploiting (the making of) art history was integral to the exhibition’s concept.

The reply was that the gallery did not agree with our concept. “Lame” was the word.

We have since decided to withdraw our works from this so-called alternative space.

Despite our disappointment with the gallery management, we take heart that the exhibition was able to highlight the ideological lines that divide the milieu we are part of, lines that help determine the breadth, pitch, and span of critical art production and discourse.

and so it becomes clear: as far as the gallery’s concerned: (1) no curatorial note can say anything negative and/or namedrop, and (2) responding to a foreign curator’s statements about Philippine art is “drama” that’s negative. and yes, we got that loud and clear, it’s the gallery’s right to take down a curatorial note, BUT keep the exhibit that goes with it as if it stands on its own. got it.

on Enjoy Division 1 via Antares Gomez B's Facebook

on Enjoy Division 1 via Antares Gomez B's Facebook

on Enjoy Division 2 via Antares Gomez B's Facebook

on Enjoy Division 2 via Antares Gomez B's Facebook

so you know, there is actual debate and engagement with the strategies/tragedies/ concepts/ideologies/fictions that create this art world, and then there’s murahan at personalan, walang paliwanagan. and there are mafias and cliques and friendships, a refusal to change the way things are, and the general disregard for and distrust in criticism, even when they dish it against critics who engage them in intelligent discourse.

right here is why i never agreed with the idea that the one great thing to come out of the conservative controversy that was poleteismo is that people will start talking about philippine art. because the censorship of Enjoy Division’s curatorial note was infinitely more offensive and should resonate for anyone who writes — anyone at all — and as such demands involvement from those who joined the fray of  kulo’s closure.

but the national artist and the high-and-mighty writers of this world don’t seem to care about art anymore, even when it’s been trampled upon by a foreigner with false grand statements about Pinoy art, even when it is censored in light of protecting one way of viewing art making in this country.

we prove in the end that post-poleteismo, and save for the grand couple of weeks when everyone was suddenly an art critic in this country and no one complained, the issue of censorship in the arts and the systems that allow it — without the noise of the penis — will only fall on deaf ears.

tunay na nakakadismaya.

Click here for Antares Gomez Bartolome’s curatorial note.

Posted in: arteng biswal, arts and culture, bayan, kapitalista, kultura, pangyayari

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13 Comments/Pingbacks

  1. Gregg The Bully
    September 1, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Bloody… just as I thought. All is fair game as long as it’s not about you.

    • ina
      September 1, 2011 at 11:25 pm

      about me? but EVERYTHING’S about me! and you for that matter. :D

  2. Carina
    September 1, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    There are times when galleries only have a vague idea of what shows are going to be about. Artists and groups are usually given slots and are pretty much free to do what they want with what they’re given.

    So, it’s pretty possible that L&S really just didn’t know what the group was going to show, or that it was going to be accompanied by a write-up that seemed to be against their principles, as an art space. I personally think that the group should have considered what the gallery stands for prior to mounting a show (if they did not) and kind of gauge whether or not it would be a good fit for the art space.

    • ina
      September 2, 2011 at 2:42 am

      hey carina! :) that’s infinitely interesting to me, that sometimes galleries only have a vague idea of what shows could be about. so parang art-space-for-rent siya? not necessarily a gallery that’s about its exhibitions?

      but then hypothetically, why would this art-space-for-rent have a set of principles as an art space if they might say yes to an exhibit that they aren’t clear about?

      or let’s say those principles exist anyway, whatever they are, wouldn’t those principles be necessarily tainted by the fact that the art-space-for-rent agrees to exhibits without a real sense of what these will be about? in which case, while we might say that the group should have considered these principles, we might also say that this was the failure of the gallery to keep track of, have a sense of, be more knowledgeable about an exhibit it had agreed to carry.

      too, the gallery thought the exhibited works here were ok; what they minded was the curatorial note, which they considered as distinct from the works instead of seeing it as an integral part of it. news that they had taken the note down happened on the 29th, two days after the exhibit opened, too. so it would be interesting to find out how they reacted on opening night, and why it wasn’t removed then.

      but maybe the more productive task is to engage in a discussion on the processes involved in the creation of an exhibit, including its political aspect(s) of course, but maybe more important, in terms of the practice(s) that you speak of. it’s something that’s rarely talked about truthfully after all.


  3. adam?
    September 2, 2011 at 5:33 am

    haha! panalo si pow martinez, a. so true to his name!

    ang interes ko dito ay mas nasa six months from now, matapos ang back-to-back-to-back exposure to the “public” light ng laziness and stupidity ng various mainstream modes ng art production dito – CCP, F. Sionil, ngayon ito, ie, private galleries – ay kung mangyayari pa rin ito ULIT, kung susuportahan PA RIN ng mga tao ang mga moda na’to pagkatapos nito.

    • ina
      September 2, 2011 at 10:16 am

      @Adam? sinong mga tao exactly? sa tingin ko, tulad ng sa literary world, laging mayroong artist na papalit sa artist na tumangging bahagi ng modang lazy at stupid, i.e., laging may bebet sa CCP at kay F.Sionil. vow.

      • adam?
        September 2, 2011 at 11:44 pm

        “tao” = everyone!

        • ina
          September 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm

          ako. papatol hanggang kaya. feeling ko ikaw rin, kahit nagtitimpi ka.

  4. James
    September 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Hay naku. Ang arrogance talaga ng mga “artists” ngayon. Out of bounds na. Pa high brow. Pa cool. Pa shock. Wala nang respeto kahit kanino.

    • loraine pineda
      September 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Correct. Absolutely correct.

    • ina
      September 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      to me, it’s sad more than anything else. but also, i appreciate the fearlessness with which this kind of “real” responses happen. i presume alam naman nating lahat na pampublikong larangan ang facebook, so it’s a refusal to cloak one’s feelings and thoughts, which has to be appreciated. yes?

    • Jeremy Tintiangko
      September 21, 2011 at 1:05 am

      I do believe that there are tons of “Artists” that could definitely fit your descriptions. However, no matter how “out of bound”, or “pa-high brow” or “pa-shock” they are, a democratic country should in fact be open to the possibilities of having these kinds of citizens.I also believe that it is in fact even more effective for issues such as this to surface every once in a while for an effective discourse to occur, all contributing to the progression and development of each and every citizen.Cause if not, then, why are we even claiming to be a democratic society if all that we do is suppress ideas regardless if it’s in accordance to your beliefs or vice versa? In light though of the current controversies, I just want to say that though you are right that there are those who create simply for the heck of it, these issues at hand that really fired up this talk, one that involves Antares Bartolome and another which is the Kulo exhibit, are “pa-shock” for no simple reason! People nowadays are so blinded of the real terrorism that is happening and think of radical statements as terrorism which is really disturbing. What these artists are doing are there attempts at breaking the illusion. Our illusion that everything is fine and right when in fact it is not.

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