Hear, Here, for the Beer

Lena Cobangbang

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#Homework is a special section by Planting Rice in collaboration with The Manila Review

2013. Was it the best of times or the worst of times for art ? Depends. If I look at what happened to my own career, with a fast-paced changing of the guards and job descriptions from being gallery director, to gallery manager, to project manager, to freelance curator, to studio assistant, the art scene definitely has been busier and fussier than it’s ever been in the last 10 years. Or I’m so insular to have that observation.

What did happen and how ?

Deaths of great mentors, particularly that of Mr. Chabet, and which also signaled the end of an era, or the end of a way of thinking and doing, art that is not so dependent on the art market. I will contradict that last part, his students, us, are still alive—so it’s still not dead, maybe just barely surviving. It’s up to us what we do afterwards and despite this, forge on ahead without a care, or as if that’s all that matters, social/market pariah or not.
Otherwise it’s same old, same old in the old market scene.

Artfair Philippines. The better art fair, with more good looking people, more free alcohol, displaying art that tries to be different from the other art fairs but nonetheless still had the obligatory crowd pleasers (auction artists, Christmas bazaar type animatronics). I had misgivings about it being held in a carpark. Does it try to be like a carshow? Then where are the Jagermeister girls in short skirts giving shots for everyone ? I heard the next one will still be in the same carpark. There should be a souped-up customized car in it already. And this will be my submission, courtesy of BMW (Batangas Motor Works).

The arrival of JLC as collector and being in almost every art opening, consequently making going to art openings as a cool/glam celebrity/ lifestyle thing. By Jove! He gets more attention than the works on display. But he’s a positive indicator of an expanding market/audience. I just hope that he’s able to convert his friends/network into this art investment.

The Manila Vice show at Sete, France. A survey show of Filipino contemporary art that had broad press coverage and sound reviews, and Romeo Lee being finally recognized as an avant garde in its own, affirmed as punk, not just self-proclaimed. And most of the Bastards are part of it, spearheaded by Manuel Ocampo.

The Salvador Bernal retrospective at CCP . It seems I don’t remember any other exhibits that vividly aside from this, except of course shows I was part of. Everything seem to just have went by in a blur. Or amnesia pervades in a much fast-paced art industry that it necessitated Throwback Thursday posts. Or we remember most the selfies, always the selfies, or Jun Sabayton’s rotund belly. Or the posts about pet cats and dogs. Such adorable morning positive vibes from such. Such doge. Such lolzcat.

The true alternative scene—El Diablo, Bavaria, 8.6, Bear Beer, Bali Hai, Sapporo, Estrella Galicia. London Pride remains to be consumed by the 6-pack, you’re still so elusive. You also, Don Papa Rum.

Kat Medina opening her house again for a solo exhibition by Gino Javier of a more put-together body of works via photographs (3 x 5 prints and/ or tarp prints). She did it the first time in 2012 for her solo exhibit and for which I nominated her to the Ateneo Art Awards but no one there got why it was significant and a breakthrough. They didn’t want it because it undermined the gallery system, the institutions which they themselves are a part of. But this is putting too much reading into something that stems from a practical concern—just a place to hold a show. Again, she has showed that there be no laziness nor excuses for the will to triumph. A show can be held anywhere. And an artist’s studio or his/her house is the best place for such.

Artists on bikes. More artists on bikes. But still no James Kalm doing the vernissage rounds for shows here. It’s still geographically impossible. However, the opening schedules of galleries have more or less fallen into a predictable pattern :
1st Saturdays of the Month – Duemila
2nd Saturdays of the Month – Blanc and Manila Contemporary, cities apart: problematic.
3rd Saturdays of the Month – Mo_Space and Pablo, Fort; fortunately they’re in the same area so you can have two beers with one glass. Drawing Room in Makati also but they start earlier at 4PM.
1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month (as each show runs for 2 weeks) – West Gallery
1st Thursdays of the month – Art Informal
3rd or 4th Thursdays of the month – Silverlens
2nd Tuesdays of the month – Finale
Sundays – Secret Fresh

Why doesn’t anyone pick Monday or Wednesday for an opening? Everybody wants to open on a traffic heavy Saturday. Or are Mondays and Wednesdays reserved for hang-over recuperation ? I don’t know if any work gets done if you have a week-long of openings. That would be sickening.

Your name becoming a hashtag.
Everyone’s on IG already. FB ‘s so passe now. It just takes seconds to shoot, edit, upload and hashtag a show. Who cares about the reviews, do they even exist?
“Chibog artists” blending seamlessly with the art crowd because they are now better dressed. Who coined the term anyway?

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