By J. C. Laquiores-Burgos
Blank, bleak walls will be colorfully filled, and the dank, desolate floor will be merrily crowded once again as the sixth edition of the Art Fair Philippines comes to town in March. Whether you are an ultimate art buff, a budding humanities enthusiast, a novice in the world of creativity, or just a curious geek in the outskirts of the art world, the Art Fair Philippines 2018 welcomes everyone to an artistic landscape for your eyes, hearts, and souls to feast on. This year, Art Fair Philippines not just upholds the ArtFairPH/Projects for contemporary visual arts, but also introduces a new section dedicated to the art of photography, the ArtFairPH/Photo. This means more artworks to value and more artists to adore! Check out some of the artists who will partake of this year’s ArtFairPH/Photo and ArtFairPH/Projects.
This year, Art Fair Philippines not just upholds the ArtFairPH/Projects for contemporary visual arts, but also introduces a new section dedicated to the art of photography, the ArtFairPH/Photo.
A keen eye for photography and cultural study are a good combination for visual documentation of the ever-changing scenes in a society. And Neal Oshima has gone that route as a photographer of indigenous culture. Spending more than four decades of photographing indigenous tribes and traditions, he has utilized photography as a way of recording and examining culture. Believing that “cultural practices are revealed through the nuances of a photograph,” this prolific photographer brings the Austronesians, which include the Filipino race, under the spotlight in “Kin.” But his “Provocations” that he curated with Angel Shaw will be the first documentary photography exhibit at Art Fair Philippines. It features works of different stories from photojournalists working in the field “giving light to an aspect of Philippine culture.”
Another featured lensman is Filipino-Catalan Eduardo Masferre. His works will be presented by 1335 Mabini and, just like Oshima, he has a penchant for capturing the lives of indigenous people. From 1934 to 1956, he photographed the people of Cordillera Mountains, the Bontok, Kankana-ey, Kalinga, Gaddang, and Ifugao among them. Considered as the father of Philippine photography, Masferre chronicled in images the lives of the Igorot people and that was tagged as his ultimate collection.
His name suggests a very pure Filipino culture and tradition in nominal form. And that is just appropriate for Kidlat Tahimik has been known for creating a distinct or original cinematic language in independent cinema. For the Art Fair, he will put an artwork inspired by a local mythological goddess against another inspired by a Hollywood actress. His installations explore the themes of “ubiquity of the white ideal, cinema favoring Western myths over local narratives, and identity forged through lores and relics” through a wooden sculpture of Inhabian, the local deity to whom Ifugaos pray if storms are coming, and that of Marilyn Monroe, American cinema’s famous sex symbol and Hollywood goddess.
The devil and the gods are in the detailed mishmash of works from this awardee of Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Leonard Aguinaldo who received the CCP’s Thirteen Artists Award in 2003 has explored the mountain life and indigenous culture of the Cordillera. But through his rubbercut artworks for the Art Fair, he puts the shine on the beliefs and rituals of the common Filipino. Basing on the concept of play or game, the ethnographic artist blends and interlaces together the ideas of myth and gods to showcase “a tapestry of dreams and numbers in the game of jueteng, a board game dotted with politicians and words culled from campaigns,” and to demonstrate the elements of vice and magic, science and superstition, and faith and chance.
Antipas Delotavo, Renato Habulan, and Pablo Baen Santos
Social realist art within a wooden material will never go out of style in contemporary art for these three brave artists who have been in the industry since the Marcos era. Antipas Delotavo, Renato Habulan, and Pablo Baen Santos are accomplished creators who were once well-known members of the social realist collective named Kaisahan. Art with purpose has been their game, especially when being extremely vocal against the Marcos administration by “articulating conflict and effecting social change” through their creations. For the Art Fair, the three defy the belief of obsoleteness in their genre of social realism by exploiting current events and the state of conflict in a nation. Delotavo expresses the lack of social justice through a coffin he has built. Santos makes use of President Rodrigo Duterte’s profanities contrasted with the enraged protests of masses in a painting. Habulan incorporates the dystopian effects of war through a multi-media installation.
“The art fair is full of objects, more or less interesting; I wish to add 23,623 more,” remarks conceptual artist Nilo Ilarde. This is his antithetical response to a statement in 1968 by another conceptual artist Douglas Huebler who said: “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” Ilarde then propels his exhibit from this exchange of thoughts arising from the conceptual art movement and reflecting “the mood of an era where artists explored the dematerialization of art, believing that a work could exist primarily as pure thought.” His display of die-cast cars rebrands the character of the venue which is the car park as “a space for excess and unending free play.” And this recalls our unfailing urge or desire to create things, commodify them with prices, and collect them for our own consumption.
Known for his works on abrasive paper, this artist now showcases his art through another medium–a two-hour-long video. In 2015, Alvin Zafra is the CCP’s Thirteen Artists Award recipient and this year, he has been granted the special Karen Montinola selection. He uses abrasive paper or sandpaper to grind various objects to depict images on the surface like grinding stones to form an image of city, or bones to portraits. But for this year’s Art Fair, he presents his two-hour-long video entitled “Revolver,” which shows the artist destroying a gun using a steel grinder. This churns out questions on violence and power, revolutions as a balancing act, and the aftermath of the end of a gun. The disks and dusts of the grinder are held in three resin spheres in a glass box, “like an unmoving galaxy that has completed its revolution.” This is a sure way to attract both the attention of any visitor and also their critical understanding of a complex but interesting work of art.
The world of words unifies the different medium used by this only female artist in this male-dominated list. Visual artist Lyra Garcellano defines the bond between language and territory in her paintings, installations, videos, and photography to explicate her recurring themes of national identity and the debated approaches on how to appreciate or value art. Garcellano’s works that contrast the ideology of art exhibitions also happen to be displayed within an art fair, and this distinction make her showcase something to look forward to as it undertakes “institutional critiques and subtle provocations.” She attempts to discuss the growing archetypes in the world of art constructed by the ubiquitous systems of displaying artworks. Her installations particularly use text as both a medium and a subject for she delves into and questions the art world using text; hence art can be a language game, as well.
Supporting the fair’s educational component are ArtFairPH/Talks and ArtFairPH/Tours organized in conjunction with the Ateneo Art Gallery and the Museum Foundation of the Philippines respectively. The Art Fair will offer three talks on each of the four public fair days.
Art Fair Philippines 2018 will happen on March 1 to 4 at The Link car park in Makati City. It will maximize the car park building by converting all its available space into a multi-level exhibition venue with a floor area totaling more than 13,000 square meters over several floors. For a more organized flow of visitors, Art Fair Philippines 2018 will have timed entry periods for the public fair days: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Guests may stay at the fair and appreciate the art as long as they wish, and they may leave at their own convenience. Tickets can be purchased online up to 24 hours before the chosen date of entry.