Ideas, incubators and initiators
Sculptures by Julie Lluch.
Walter Bollozos

Ideas, incubators and initiators

PLATFORMS - M.C. Reodica (The Philippine Star) - March 2, 2020 - 12:00am

Art fair philippines 2020

The first thing a viewer would see upon entering each floor of Art Fair Philippines 2020 is one of the “Wall Drawings” of conceptualist Sol LeWitt. Take “Wall Drawing #869,” in which a wavy black line on a wall is repeated by drafters drawing lines in different colors below. This “democratic hand” is the metaphorical device by which LeWitt’s works are intended to be executed by people based on a set of directives. It is LeWitt’s because of the idea, which persists even if the variables change, like the wall, the materials, and the drafter. The premises of ownership, authorship, and prestige underlying the transactions taking place during the Art Fair are, like “Wall Drawings,” ideas, too.

The recent departure of 10 of Manila’s galleries from Art Fair’s core exhibitors led to speculation about this year’s proceedings. Over its run from Feb. 21 to 23, 61 galleries and art spaces gathered at The Link. Crowds were drawn to Julie Lluch’s awe-inducing dramaturg in sculpture, Rodel Tapaya’s vibrant visions, Carlo Villafuerte’s richly-storied tapestries, and more from established and emerging artists across the country.

What was most exciting were the new projects that turned to different ways of exhibiting and presenting. The Incubators featured artist initiatives thriving outside the mainstream gallery format; that stirred things up with spontaneous performances, virtual reality hives, and refreshing perspectives amidst the commerce. Giatay’s roster of works by Visayan artists were both playful and dead serious about how its titular Bisaya expression needs no Tagalog or English translation. Load na Dito’s booth became a common hangout where people could sit down and converse, blurring the division between gallery and living room. Meanwhile, chickens roosted with artworks in a coop situated in the parking lot, courtesy of Project 20.

This also marks the first year of Art Fair’s Film section with “The Unconfined Cinema,” which featured a diverse screening program of Philippine cinema. The schedule and lineup were deliberately left unannounced; you had to be there to see it.

Given that a significant portion of Art Fair’s public consists of students, it’s important to continue having spaces where younger generations can engage with practices that reinvent themselves, generate new ideas, and respond to the concerns of our time. It will be interesting to see how Art Fair Philippines will build upon these new developments in programming next year.


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M.C. Reodica is the winner in the 2019 Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prize in Art Criticism.

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