The fifth edition of Art Fair Philippines kicked off on Wednesday evening, February 15, with some 2,000 guests attending the yearly assembly of the best offerings in the contemporary art scene. Once again, the Link Carpark at the Ayala Center in Makati transforms into an art gallery as the fair mounts various exhibits on floors 5, 6, 7, and this year, the addition of the open-air Roofdeck.
Art Fair Philippines runs from February 16 to 19, 2017. Established in 2013, the fair aims to showcase the best of Philippine contemporary art and to present the vibrant local art scene.
From a recorded 6, 000 fair-goers during its first year, Art Fair gathered 22,000 visitors in 2016, and expects to draw the same, if not more this year.
Trickie Lopa, one of the organizers and founders of Art Fair told some reporters during the fair’s vernissage, “We really wanted to expand the appreciation of art to the local audience.
“We feel lucky because since we opened, the audience grows every year. The figures last year were very good..That’s great, that means the interest in contemporary Philippine art and visual art in the regions is there, maintained. And if the people are interested, for us, our mission is fulfilled.”
As their way of offering something new every year, Art Fair visitors can expect more interactive works this year, including WSK’s booth featuring the works of various established sound artists and an animation film by Dex Fernandez.
Art Fair Philippines 2017 also features 12 foreign galleries, artists’ talks that complement the exhibit, as well as public art installations located outside the venue.
Meanwhile, here are some of the works to see at this year’s Art Fair:
1. Jose Tence Ruiz’ Langue and Lounge
Ruiz’ installation consists of a large image of a tongue, which represents the ‘langue‘ (French word for language). The artist noted that it is a “tongue licking back” and relates to a symbolic “French kissing of authoritarian power.”
Surrounding the massive sculpture are chairs with velvet cushions and straps reminiscent of chairs used for electrocution. On the contrary, the artist said that viewers are encouraged to sit on them.
“The chairs can actually make people relax,” he said. “They’re meant to be comfortable, like the idea of finding comfort in death.”
2. Agnes Arellano’s Project Pleiades
Made from a live cast of her own body, Agnes Arellano’s work lets you encounter four “celestial beings,” which according to the description are: Dakini, Tantric sky dancer; Inanna, multi-breasted cow goddess; Kali, Hindu goddess of time, death, and destruction; and Magdalene, Christ’s most beloved disciple.
“All my works are about the sacred feminine, the sacred sexuality,” Arellano noted while recalling how she started depicting goddesses in her works some three decades ago.
Arellano is a revered sculptor known for her life-sized works that present mythical and feminine figures tackling the “inscape” or inward quest for the spiritual and philosophical.
“Since I started, I already worked on the female principle in religion because I was very disillusioned with what I had from birth. Born Catholic, everything is so repressive, there is so much fear of sex, and when I lost my virginity, I couldn’t keep going back to confession being hypocritical about it,” she noted.
3. Dex Fernandez’ Garanimation Project
Dex Fernandez’ work is composed of a video animation and a drawing installation of his iconic graffiti, the garapata or tick.
Wanting to see his iconic image “move,” he opted to delve on animation. This video depicting a garapata walking, is entitled Hobo in Wanderland and plays on a loop at his exhibit.
The other half of his exhibit is an interactive drawing installation that encourages active participation from the visitors. At one of the corners of his exhibit room, papers and colorful pens are available for visitors to draw anything they want. This will be posted on a wall surrounding the room together with other works.
“I took advantage in the chance to interact with the different viewers. Art is not something you just buy and mount on walls. An interaction with the artist is also needed,” Fernandez said in Filipino.
“There are no limits, no rules. Express yourself,” he said as an encouragement to those who want to participate.
The young artist also recalled his fondness of garapata, which is a major part of his childhood memories.
“Garapata is very personal for me. When I was a child, me and my siblings’ past time was to remove ticks from our pet dogs. We used to collect them, put them in a jar, and pour gas on it. There was a time our house was heavily infested with it. It crawled everywhere–curtains, on our curtains, on our pillows–so our family decided to let go of our dogs,” he said.
“When I was already doing my art, it was automatic for me to draw simple figures with many legs. Maybe it was a manifestation of my memories about garapata. When I got involved in street art, I thought it was perfect to apply the concept of it spreading in streets just like what happened in our home,” Fernandez’ shared.
4. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace at the WSK space
Another highly interactive work, this wall, wrapped with metal sheets will produce sound when touched by two people. In addition to this wall are other works focused on sound art that are encouraged to be viewed, heard, and experienced.
Curated by Erwin Romulo and Tengal Drilon, the special project features works by notable sound artists like Erick Calilan whose “Sully C.” consists of a 20-minute audio file of the sex scandal of Ferdinand Marcos and American actress Dovie Beams in the 70′s. It is played on loop.
Calilan said that he worked on the idea of lost memory in this work. He shared, ”During the 70’s, if you search about the scandal, it became big. Basically, no one remembers the Marcos-Dovie Beams scandal. If you listen to this machine, you can hear it clearly. It’s more of a decay of that, like lost memories.”
The WSK space, in fact, utilizes as material the scandalous tape recording that Beams played before members of the Manila press in 1970.
“I think this is the first time that there is a special exhibition focusing on sound art. WSK is not really a group but more of a platform and a festival. We showcase sound art ,experimental music; and the practice itself, it’s like we cross between art and science. We have with us programmers and engineers with us,” he noted.
Another piece from the WSK space is ”Sex To Speech,” a pseudo-seductive performance by text-to-speech computer programs created by Tad Ermitaño. Animated figures with the likeness of Marcos and Dovey Beams was created by G/FK/DS .
Here is a video by Tengal Drilon, posted by Ermitaño on Facebook:
5. Ged Gemino and Aze Ong’s Illuminati at The Drawing Room
When Ged Gemino and Aze Ong realized they share the same medium and aesthetics, the two artists decided to collaborate on projects, one of which is the “Illuminati” for the Art Fair.
Gemino told InterAksyon, “When I met Aze last year, I saw her installations, and I was very attracted to her work. I like textile, too, so we started talking, and I realized we have many similarities so we did small projects together.
“We started with this one. She’s interested in angels, and I’m interested in angels also, so we started sketching and figuring out.”
On the other hand, Ong noted that while Gemino worked on found objects, she created the crocheted components. Ong said she does her work fluidly–with no standard and no patterns.
“I just do it continuously. It heals me. This (our work)depicts an angel. Its title is ‘Illuminati,’ which came from our research of the enlightened one. It’s actually a positive vibe; it is a messenger; a guide,” Ong explained.
6. Maria Jeona Zoleta’s Forced farts, Cartoon Pain, and Daddy Issues or Accident by Voodoo while I Masturbate Underwater with my Adult Baby Diaper Rash Until Hell Freezes Over is a Freak Show
It is hard to miss Zoleta’s mixed media installation that bursts in psychedelic colors. According to a description of her work, the installation is “her world of oddities and fascination.”
“(It is) a regurgitation of imagined experiments, and adventures imbued with the rawness of Zoleta’s artificial, virtual, and physical realities,” it further indicated.
7. CANVAS’ Metropolis
The Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development for this year’s fair features works of artists that reflect the question or idea of living in a megacity like Metro Manila, and how it contributes to the meaning of being a Filipino.Entitled, “Metropolis,” the exhibit features the works of John Paul Antido, Arturo Sanchez Jr., Daniel Dela Cruz, Renz Baluyot, Dante Lerma, SANGVIAJE, Marcel Antonio, J Pacena II, Liv Vinluan, Anthony Palomo, and Ross Jaylo.
CANVAS, in a statement describing the show, notes, ” We will never say that understanding Manila alone is sufficient to know what it means to be Filipino. But we can certainly argue that a genuine and complete understanding of what it means to be Filipino is not possible without having a feel of the pulse and spirit of the megacity.”
8. Tagadagat by Elmer Borlongan, Emmanuel Garibay, Mark Justiniani
The oil on canvas work is a collaboration between the three celebrated artists after more than 20 years. According to a statement, “Tagadagat” enabled the three to “revisit the joy and abandon that can come when friends, nay, brothers, work together, fully in sync.”
It highlights that while each individual has differences, we need “empathy to navigate the unknown waters of the present.”
“We rise and fall with everyone.. We are all in the same boat. Lahat tayo, Tagadagat,” the statement said.
• Art Fair Philippines runs from February 16 to 19 (Thursday to Sunday) at The Link, Ayala Center in Makati CIty. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Entrance fee is Php250; for students with valid IDs, Php50; and free admission for Makati students with valid IDs.