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Art, Tech and the Tropics: Writing on Philippine Contemporary Art

A view of Manila from my plane, landing at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
A view of Manila from my plane, landing at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — What’s up, Hyperallergic? I’m excited to begin blogging again more regularly this month. I’ve just landed in Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines, to begin a month-long writing residency at Green Papaya Art Projects.

Green Papaya is the country’s longest-running residency program, based in the Quezon City area of Manila (sort of like the city’s Brooklyn). They’ve done a ton of cool projects in the past, including climate change reports, film festivals projected on buildings, curated shows in other countries in the Pacific and a foodless dinner party. I’m excited to join their community for the month. Here’s their mission statement:

Green Papaya Art Projects is an independent initiative that supports and organizers actions and propositions that explore tactical approaches to the production, dissemination, research and presentation fo contemporary art practice in varied artistic and scholarly fields. It endeavors to provide a platform for intellectual exchange, sharing of information, critical dialogue and creative-practical collaboration among the arts community. Founded in 2000, it is the longest running independently run creative multidisciplinary platform in the Philippines.

In reality, I won’t be in residency much, as I’ll be bouncing around Manila in search of good art and good conversations with the art scene here, from artists to curators to archivists. And while this happens, I’ll also be taking advantage of my free time to catch up on all the writing I’ve been meaning to do about China and the art scene there.

A view of the Bencab Museum, nestled in the hills of Baguio, a few hours north of Manila. Bencab, aka Benedicto Cabrera, was the Philippines' 2006 national artist.
A view of the Bencab Museum, nestled in the hills of Baguio, a few hours north of Manila. Bencab, aka Benedicto Cabrera, was the Philippines' 2006 national artist.

But my focus will be the Philippines, and my residency project will be centered around exploring the Philippine contemporary art and technology scene. A world leader in social media (I wrote a bit about the texting phenomenon here for Design Observer), the country naturally gravitates toward interesting uses of technology and communications tools.

I’ll be writing about most of it here on Hyperallergic. Then, on December 17, I’ll be giving a talk at the Ayala Museum as part of the Fete Dela WSK art and music festival, which focuses on the “diverse range of artistic activities in the context of digital culture in South East Asia.”

What do you want to learn about the Philippines and contemporary art here? Southeast Asian art? Art in Asia in general? Let me know on this blog or follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be posting updates about my explorations.

And just to give you a taste of my life here, here’s a found art video piece I made of a taxi ride from the Pasig area to Quezon City, with Sean Kingston’s Fire Burning on the radio:

Fire Burning / Taxi Ride @ Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines from An Xiao Mina on Vimeo.

Many many thanks to Mervin Espina, Lian Ladia, Norberto Roldan and Tengal Drilon for all their help and support during my time here!

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