Triangulations pt III:
Dispatches from Manilla

Part of our Triangulations series, Dispatches From Manila asks artists and curators from the region to ‘check-in’, offering perspectives or creative projects that they have been occupied with during the recent months. At the time of writing, Metro Manila (the National Capital Region, made up of 16 individual cities) had been in lockdown since early March 2020, when measures to restrict movement were taken to prevent the spread of disease. With the COVID-19 crisis unfolding among its citizens, governing officials have used the pandemic as a pretense to impose military and police enforcement around the NCR, inciting fear through forms of restriction that echo previous eras of forced civic containment under Martial Law.

Resistant voices among artists in the community, balanced with considerations of safety circulate messages of critique, humourous resistance, and creative forms of virtual comfort.  Dispatches asks members of the Manila community to share their perspectives. Drawn from three separate corners, the trail of connections reveals a rhizomatic network of solidarity and support. The program unfolds in three parts:

Dispatches, a screening program with Lost Frames (online JULY 30 – AUG 13)
Artists: Alwin Reamillo, Danielle Madrid, Leslie DeChavez, Martin DeMesa, Sidney Valdez, Tanya Villanueva, Timmy Harn, Tekla Temoria, Ralph Barrientos

This program of shorts, selected by the community open call process of Lost Frames Collective offers artist’s recent works and perspectives.

Between the Corpse and the Tree

Remaining anonymous for reasons of safety, this story contribution by an unnamed artist looks at the spectral life lives under a militarized state. Pulling from live experiences, both remembered and imagined, the narrative is a dark account of the extreme force that state-sanctioned terror exerts on the minds and lived realities of its citizens.

Interview with Load Na Dito

Following up on their visit of one year prior, this interview asks Load Na Dito to elaborate on how they manage to survive and thrive in circumstances that limit mobility and freedoms of speech.


Pacific Crossings: Triangulations 

Borrowing a term from both navigation and research methods in social science that employ multiple points of view, Triangulationsoffers three online propositions with artists and curators in Hong Kong, Beijing and Manila, encompassing shared concerns germane to the pandemic and locational contexts. Produced as part of Pacific Crossings in partnership with Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Nanaimo Art Gallery, and Richmond Art Gallery, Triangulations is a coordinated effort to bring forward distinct perspectives from different regions through digital means to support empathy and to cultivate shared understandings about what the future may hold for the arts sector and for the public.

Lost Frames is a community-based initiative for viewing artists’ moving image in the Philippines, organized by a small group of artists in Manila who show short experimental video works. As an in-person event, Lost Frames encourages individuals to share their works and to talk about each other’s methods and ideas with regards to video as a medium. This online screening program presents a selection of artists’ moving images from the Philippines that have been included in past programs.

A previous participant in Pacific Crossings projects, Load na Dito is a mobile art site that explores creative energies generated and circulated through interactions of individuals, objects, images and ideas. It creates spatio-temporal situations that address issues of participation and problematize the potential of collective production. Load na Dito was initiated by Mayumi Hirano and Mark Salvatus in 2016.

Remaining anonymous for reasons of safety, an Unnamed Artist lives and works on the archipelago known as the Philippines where they regularly contribute to events and activities as an independent artist.

A public conversation with Load Na Dito and Pacific Crossings team

A public conversation with Load Na Dito and Pacific Crossings team

Load Na Dito is an artistic and research project by Mayumi Hirano and Mark Salvatus based in Manila, Philippines. Developed as a home made culture, currently located in Cubao, Quezon City, it uses any possible space as a site for knowledge sharing, inquiry and discussion. “Load na Dito” is a local top up system for cellphone credit, where you can load anywhere as long as you can see a sign “load na dito.”  Developing it as a model, the pair make projects in different locations—building new energies to have “load.”  Load Na Dito co-founders, researcher-curator Mayumi Hirano and artist-organizer Mark Salvatus, offered context of their practice working in the Philippines and within the wider Asian art community.

Mayumi Hirano is an independent curator, researcher and translator based in Manila and Osaka, Japan. She is the co-founder of a multi-disciplinary space 98B COLLABoratory where she was the head of educational program, until 2018. After her curatorial practice at Yokohama Triennale (2005) and Koganecho Bazaar (2008-2013), her research and practice continues to focus on the relationship between art and society. She is currently focusing on developing educational programs that facilitate experimentations with various ideas by using creative mediums. Mayumi was an Asian Public Intellectuals Fellow (2013-2014), and worked as a researcher for Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong (2007-2008).

Mark Salvatus (b. 1980) currently lives and works between Manila, Philippines and Osaka, Japan. He graduated cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas College of Fine Arts and Design Manila with a degree in Advertising Arts. He had solo shows at the Vargas Museum (Manila/PH), Ateneo Art Gallery (Manila/PH), Cultural Center of the Philippines (Manila/PH), La Trobe University Visual Art Center, (Melbourne/AU) and Goyang Art Studio (KR). His works have been presented in various international exhibitions including Video Spotlight: Philippines, Asia Society (NYC/USA, 2015); Neither Back nor Forward: Acting in the Present, Jakarta Biennale (Jakarta/ID, 2015); Survival Kit, (Umea/SW, 2014); Prologue: Honolulu Biennial (2014); Censorship, Move on Asia, Alternative Space Loop (Seoul/KR, 2014); Hotel Inmigrantes, parallel event Manifesta 9 (Hasselt/BE, 2012); 4th Guangzhou Triennale, Guandong Museum of Art (Guangzhou/CN, 2011); 3rd Singapore Biennale, Singapore Art Museum (SG, 2011); Koganecho Bazaar (Yokohama/JP, 2011); X IV Jakarta Biennale, Galeri Nasional (Jakarta/ID, 2011), La Trobe Univeristy Museum of Art | LUMA (Melbourne/AU, 2011), Next Wave Festival (Melbourne/AU, 2010); Asia Panic (Gwangju/KR, 2009). Mark Salvatus is a recipient of the 13 Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (2012); Sovereign-Schoeni Art Prize, Hong Kong (2012) and Ateneo Art Awards (2010) and was part of the Philippine Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale 2016 in Venice/IT.

(documentation: there should be an audio file, some casual photos, and possibly more from RAG, ask Shaun/Allison)

Either a Storm or a Drought 

Curated by Load Na Dito, Either a Storm or a Drought was a deconstructed screening of video works by artists in the Philippines.

Referring to ideas that are commonly associated with the Filipino weather, Either a Storm or a Drought explored the ever-changing, unforeseeable and idle state of the life in the Philippines. The works introduced here playfully portrayed transient and unsettling situations that draw visible and invisible borders between personal, social and political territories.

Set up in a casual arrangement for self-directed viewing the event took place throughout an evening of socializing. Emphasizing the social space,  Mark Salvatus and Mayumi Hirano of Load Na Dito created a temporary installation using materials that were found in the Artspeak storage space. Visitors were encouraged to look around at their own pace and the team at Artspeak welcomed guests who dropped in with refreshments and casual discussion.

A brochure for the project was created by Cheyenne Rain Le Grande. The event was produced as part of the Pacific Crossings residency, hosted by Artspeak and Western Front.

Featured works:
Rico Entico
Cocoy Lumbao
Neo Maestro
Manny Montelibano
Annie Pacaña
Gerome Soriano
Shireen Seno
Christian Tablazon
Tanya Villanueva
Kanade Yagi

KALEIDOSCAPE V.4, 2019 By Annie Pacaña + Baile (sound) 03:22 min 

Kaleidoscape uses the visual elements of infrastructure (steel frames of billboard structures, railways, wires and electric posts, and power transmission towers) in an urban weave of Metro Manila to create a space of contemplation from the city’s chaos. Bringing these to the fore heightens the legibility of urban connectivity and alienation. A calm from chaos provides a momentary escape from the complexity, confusion, and congestion of urban life. An immersive installation of this work is intended to create a space of contemplation within a city. 

If a tree falls in a forest, 2019 By Christian Tablazon 5:47 min 

The abstractions of images, bodies, and experience in the numinous technologies of moving- image practice (and art in general) may point to methods of divination as potent alternative models for producing, reading, and thinking about the already inherently spectral medium/apparition that is cinema. Taking off from the popular conundrum “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”, this project combines video, performance, field recording, and crematorium soot imprints laminated on found film in an attempt to explore the traces of both living and dead, and the haunted convolutions among dream, perception, memory, language, desire, and extinction. 

runExecuteCommand.mp4, 2017 By CMYKA 30 sec 

The work, showing glitch image of dancing girls, is made up of two components: Salvaged audio from a news report of a police chase – hence the title; and a video clip of a random local ‘sexy’ dancer act, both sourced from the internet. 

Negative Cutter, 2017 By Cocoy Lumbao 5:36 min 

Part elegy, part parody, Negative Cutter delves into the qualities that surround the idea of endings and obsolescence. Using the form of ‘end credits,’ as a kind of cinematic trope, it takes a closer look at a disappearing trade which are the negative cutting services that used to be vital in the distribution of Hollywood feature films. As the film industry tethers on the brink of total transformation from analog to digital processes of post-production, the job title of ‘negative cutters,’ who have occupied the bottom section of the rolling credits for several years, face the possibility of becoming obsolete. The process of negative cutting is described as manually cutting motion picture negatives or film rolls to match the editor’s final cut before distribution. In movies produced in the post-digital age, negative cutters have disappeared from the credits’ list. 

As a kind of formal composition, the work explores the paradoxical nature of paying tribute through digital video in creating a pseudo-collage, of cutting and pasting together appropriated elements from films. It also explores the nature of the ‘end credits’ as an integral part of our visual culture with its own set of significations. Furthermore, in magnifying what could only be perceived as ‘residual’ in the whole spectacle of film-making, the works presented also serve as commentary on seldom-noticed variables behind the main attraction, which are the labor force and the complexities that arise from constantly changing technologies. 

Chocnut Structures, 2018 By Gerome Soriano 06:16 min 

This work is inspired by the one of the many stories told to us by the artist/tour guide Carlos Celdran about the old Spanish walled city in Manila, Intramuros. He said that before there used to be 7 Churches inside and many government offices and universities. But most of it has been pulverized by the bombing of the city by American forces trying to rat out the garrisoned Japanese during World War 2. Leaving Manila as the second most devastated city during the war. 

Metabolism of the Wall, 2018 By Kanade Yagi 9:57 min 

She graduated Tokyo Zokei University and finished the research program of CCA Kitakyushu. She did research in the Philippines as a researcher of Asia Fellowship of Japan Foundation in 2016 and the Japanese Government Overseas Study Program for Artists (short term) in 2017. She currently stays in the Philippines half of a year and does research about spiritualism and creativity in the Philippines, and explores how to express the things that she got from the research as her art works. 

Home Sale, 2018 Manny Montelibano 08:03 min 

Based in Bacolod on Negros Occidental, Manny Montelibano is a video and sound installation artist, film and stage director, editor, and technical specialist. His work focuses on the psychology of contemporary socio- political, economic and religious structures. Home Sale is one of Montelibano’s recent video works shot by a thermal camera, which address issues of economy, politics and psychology around Filipino ideas of security

Banuyo, 2017 06:31 min By Neo Maestro 

Looking at the absurdities of urban life in Metro Manila, the original video work showed the entire 3-hour commute of the artist (which included walking, jeepney and train rides,long lines), as he travelled just 12 kilometers that crossed three different cities, from his home in Banuyo, Quezon City to General Luna, Manila, and back. Mapping the artist’s way from his home to his work space, the video work serves as his personal, intentionally frustrating, and literal “step-by-step” commute. 

Precedence of life according to Mr. Ped Xing,2017 By Rico Entico 6:52min 

In a dark, dusty box, surrounded by metals and concrete. Oftentimes, when nobody watches, I mimic what I see. Yellow headed men who would come and destroy the road. Fixing it again days after. Others in coloured outfits, taking turns on their silly dancing and collection from random metal moving. I wait in my place as people stare when I turn red. Some would stop, others just stare…they begin to wait…before i turn green. Bang! Bang! he looks like me now. All red….a familiar face in the night. Meanwhile, I am trapped in my box until the lights go out. 

Seeing Machines By Shireen Seno 5min 

When I was a kid, I had really bad motion sickness, and the only way for me to cope with being on a moving vehicle was to focus my vision on a certain point rather than letting my eyes shift. It was a way to take control of something I otherwise had no control over.  Growing out of my motion sickness came with a newfound thrill of being in motion. 

With ‘Seeing Machines’, I was thinking about different kinds of structures. More than buildings, built spaces, and transportation, I became interested in the power of the camera and the structuring in our own vision. I wanted to experiment with the frame, and the movement of things in and out of it. I wanted to resist the desire to look or go elsewhere, and see what was in front of me.   ‘Seeing Machines’ documents three important arteries in Toronto: the Spadina streetcar line, the National railroad, and the pedestrian tunnel connecting the city’s two main subway lines. 

Work Performing, 2019 By Tanya and Luna Villanueva 4 min 

This video is the second collaborative project I created with my daughter, Luna. We are seen sleeping on a makeshift bed stage in our backyard with surrounding soundscape crated by Luna by recording an ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) of her eating merienda (chips and milktea) merged with the environment sounds on our garden around 8 am. Layered on that is a video of several pictures of safe spaces of different creatures temporarily tattooed on some of our body parts, being moved onscreen by massaging each other. Each element of the video pertains to feeling good in order to make work, and make our relationship work as well as make ourselves work well. 

Our collaboration is an answer to how to make things work as a family unit that deals with mental illness as much as it is about the work that we do in order to create a safe space for us to make make meaningful work as artists.  Much is needed from the both of us in order to make our small family flourish. Insisting on showing the invisible work of taking care of each other, and not losing hope by manifesting our desire to create a safe, and comfortable future for us.