Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tile Project Installation in the Philippines

In late June I went to the Philippines to meet the artists who are putting together the Tile Project installation there. Eileen and Chit Ramirez shepherded me around Manila for five days... The project was installed a month later at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), a big Marcos-era modernist building with huge public spaces and gigantic chandeliers. The spot where the project is permanently installed is a prominent part of the CCP, in the lobby near the escalators and next to a painting by Eileen's grandfather Cesar Legaspi, a revered "national artist" and one of the "13 Moderns", a loose group of artists creating art opposed to the prevailing academic art of the 1940's.

In connection with the installation, the Ramirezes organized "Synch," a forum on collaboration held at the CCP in August. For full details, including photos, see http://www.transculturalexchange.org/tileproject/press.htm.

The "artist's world" I witnessed there was remarkable for its optimism, its strong sense of community, and relative lack of cynical opportunism. We went to the nightclub Conspiracy, a multiple-use environment that hosts music, installation, video, and traditional exhibition space. Oh, and a restaurant and a bar. Conspiracy is owned by some 50 artists and is a hive of art conversation and activity. Fantastic. I also saw many co-operative galleries: tiny exhibition spaces in very visible, accessible environments such as the "mega mall" and outdoor mall spaces. Though Manila's population of 11 million dwarfs that of Chicago, I saw artists who drove for hours to support their colleagues at openings and gallery events.