Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

final na!

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Sayang! Missed a REALLY fun holiday/closing party at Green Papaya Art Projects last night…
I either need to become a moneybags jetsetter or get a whole lot better at astral projection.




OMG! And who would ever think Green Papaya Art Projects will last another year to celebrate yet again another year-end party! To think the world almost collapsed at the beginning of 2010. Wasak! Yes. It’s the final party for the year. And it’s our (my) way of saying we will be here definitely in 2011. Life goes on. And a happy life goes on and on and on and on and on… I guess you all know know whose voice this is. It’s not a new voice. It’s not an old voice either. It’s just the voice that has never been heard much in these postings. The voice you will hear from now on in forthcoming postings.

Meanwhile. Thank you Carlos Villa, Jenifer Wofford+Eliza Barrios+Reanne Estrada (aka: Mail Order Brides) and Lian Ladia, Steve Eland, Ong Keng Sen, Tay Tong, Cecilia Alemani, Maximilliano Gioni, Mauricio Cattelan, Suherwan Abu, Theresia Irma, Haslinda Abdul, Antonio Luz, and all those who participated and supported Green Papaya Art Projects in No Soul For Sale Festival of the Independents in Tate Modern, The Night Festival in Singapore, Project Immemorial in Manila, Serial Killers: From Tate Modern to Taksu Singapore, and in the ongoing program The Ephemera of Disposable Goods. You were the drugs that kept us hooked to our addiction. You were the wind behind our butt. You were the flesh to our rituals. You were the air pumped into our nicotine-layered lungs. Thank you for breathing life into our stubborn desire to remain “independent” – whatever that means in this post-independent era.

And for those who have missed the previous posting:

For “The Ephemera of Disposable Goods” series, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. and Carlos Villa offer the delights of CHATSILOG, a reflection on the desire to connect across distance and time zones, a meditation on the shortcomings of digitally-dependent communication and the false sense of security it provides, and an effort at long-distance collaboration between 4 artists inhabiting 4 different places in the world, with the goal of producing a remote project in a 5th location.

CHATSILOG  is the fourth installment of The Ephemera of Disposable Goods, a program by current curator-in resident Lian Ladia. A curatorial platform presenting collaborations between two artists of similar or dissimilar genres investigating social sculptural projects based on context of time/place, relational works and encounters. This project aims to make available to featured artists Green Papaya’s space as an open studio facility where artists and public can engage in discussions as artists go through their process of constructions and deconstructions during their open sessions. Remnants of the day’s work remain on view at the shop window leading to a final documentation and installation at the end of each project.

THANK YOU Visual Pond for the TV monitors, for the FTP Server, 24Hr Art – The Northern Territory Centre for Contemporary Art (Darwin, Australia) for the DVD players and amplified speakers and Melissa Ramos, current Green Papaya artist-in-resident, for technical curatorial assistance.


Monday, December 13th, 2010

Well folks, Chatsilog is up and running which is nice, and the holidays are upon us, which is nice. Christmas and New Years the P and I will be out of Prague, then back again for a bit in January, and then I leave again in mid-January for a few months, so things are about to get a little hectic. This week, I’ll post some recent photos and stray GHOTCZs, for your entertainment.

First off, I’ve been working on a photo book, which I’ll be publishing via Lulu: don’t know that it will be print-ready for Christmas, but I’ll keep you updated as to when it’s available and where you can order it:

This publication may be of no use to anyone besides me and 3 other people, but that’s probably enough for now. For those who may have missed it earlier in the year and who could use some clarification, you may enjoy going back and reading this post or viewing these photos.

Anyway, I’m all fired up about yet another photo series I’ve just begun, at present titled “Worst Souvenirs of Prague” or “Poorly-Crafted Matryoshka Dolls” or some such. Haven’t quite got the title down, but the subject matter speaks for itself.

In my estimation, they’re not so much bad as good, of course. (And what is value, anyway? Go ask Robert Pirsig.) Mediocre souvenirs are a dime a dozen: I’m a rather exacting connoisseur, so it takes a lot to impress me. What I think I’ve identified that I enjoy so much about the novelty matryoshka dolls are these factors:

1. They’re incredibly poorly-made. Like slapdash, someone’s-mentally-ill-cousin-chained-in-a-basement-closet-made-these, poorly-made. The art brut aspect fascinates me.

2. Sloppy geography. Matryoshka dolls are not really a Prague thing: they’re a Russian thing, but are still lumped into that generally fuzzy touristic-geographical category of post-Eastern Bloc whatevercloseenough.

3. Surrealist Dinner Party. They’re often grouped indiscriminately, which is how you end up with Che Guevara next to Obama and Berlusconi but below Dirty Dancing and Madonna but above Kate&Will. It’s a lot like the way I used to love going to Longs Drugs in Oakland and finding the rubber dragons next to the american flags next to the japanese bread crumbs next to the Tupperware next to the hot dog stand. Juxtaposition makes everything fun and new again!

4. They’re disposable indicators of culture. which makes it really fun when they become passé. There’s something very poignant and abject about the matryoshkas that have outlived their relevance, and go on sale: the P just bought a set of discounted Cleveland Cavaliers nesting dolls (LeBron James edition), as a bittersweet remembrance of what might have been. And I just got John Kerry, at 80% off! (I almost bought John McCain too, but the dolls nesting inside him were not more sad John McCains or Sarah Palins, but rather, a rogue’s gallery of Former Great Republicans, which was neither desirable nor abject enough).


Poor John Kerry.

opening today!

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Prague in snowy winter-time is lovely, but oooooh don’t I wish I were in balmy, tropical Manila right now…mad props to Lian Ladia and Peewee Roldan at Green Papaya Art Projects, and to artist-in-residence Melissa Ramos, for hosting, installing and documenting this!

insane diasporic filipino clown posse

Monday, November 8th, 2010

How To Make Art With
4 People in 4  Places
for a Venue in a 5th Place

Around December 10, CHATSILOG, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B.‘s collaborative piece with Carlos Villa will open at Green Papaya Art Projects in Quezon City!

Despite my love of all things “-silog“, I didn’t choose the title this time, I swear. But for an iChat-inspired project that was only possible through the miracles of video chat and built-in cameras, it just seemed to work. And considering all the time zones involved with this project, it’s highly probable that it’s always breakfast time for someone

The show was originally scheduled for Nov 1, so we finished work on the project early (if uninentionally so), for a change. There will be some installation updates later once it’s actually in Green Papaya, but since the work is fresh on my mind, here are some deets.

This is the first new project that the Brides have done since 2005, it’s the first time we’ve collaborated with Carlos, and it’s the first time we’ve made a piece without being in each other’s actual physical presences. While we’ve spent years concocting highly impractical projects to execute, the challenges of this project were in a whole new category. Still, all of the video chats we’ve logged over the past month have been hilariously good fun, and it’s just been so heartening seeing Reanne, Eliza and Carlos, if in mediated form. I miss ‘em all something awful.

We went from a serious of initial discussions like this:

To conversations like this:

While chatting in iChat, we constructed a sort of loopy narrative of actions amongst the 4 of us, which we also recorded  individually in Photobooth. (We are not topless, BTW. Just costume-less, since our super-hero outfits are in storage in California.)

All of the individual Photobooth files were then emailed to me, so that I could edit them into 4 linked videos. I lost Final Cut Pro when my last hard drive failed, so I edited the whole thing in (shudder) iMovie. Which, after re-learning it a bit, wasn’t so bad, actually.

Syncing all 4 films up without FCP, however, was a bit challenging: I would have to export the vids and then open them as individual quicktimes, to ensure that they were syncing up with each other accurately.

I often return to this quote  from my very first blog entry here on Wofflings, as I think Emily Ignacio helped provide some inspiration for this project:

Emily Noelle Ignacio’s “Building Diaspora” (Rutgers, 2005) describes how Filipinos widely scattered around the world, have embraced the internet as a way to develop connections, community and a stronger sense of self-identity. She identifies the multiple modes in which it’s contributed to creating a more concrete sense of the Filipino diaspora, how it has helped Filipinos better understand and articulate their postcolonial situation, as well as their relationship with other communities around the world. Moving beyond, or perhaps complementing Yen Le Espiritu’s definitions of “home” (Homebound, 2003), Ignacio suggests that while “home” is ever further removed from geographic place, it is being increasingly territorialized and renegotiated in cyberspace.

P B & W

Monday, October 4th, 2010

One of the other nice things about living in Prague is its proximity to lots of other wonderful places, like Berlin. This whole “being in another country in one quick train ride” thing is pretty incredible.

train roll on

I put off going to Berlin for over 9 months for no apparent reason (ok, time and money): despite everyone and their uncle telling me to go, I couldn’t quite justify it, somehow. Once the P and I finally got there this past spring, however, it was like my whole world made sense again. I felt more energized and inspired and excited than I’d felt in quite a while.

hello: portapotty by the Brandenburg Gate, for starters

Much as I enjoy Prague, I’ve come to the fundamental conclusion that there’s not much magnetism here for me, creatively speaking. It’s not that Prague is inherently bad for this: hell, there are hordes of creatives here who find it utterly inspiring. It’s just not working for me. (Yet.) Over the past year, I’ve had crisis after crisis about why I can’t make things here, and it just seems to come down to an energy mismatch. I don’t blame Prague, but I also don’t blame myself (anymore) for not feeling energized creatively here, despite the ample time and space I’ve had here to Make Important Things.

At first, I just thought I was a failure, and something must be deeply wrong with me, for months. I didn’t realize that maybe it wasn’t quite as simple/harsh as this until I got out, and started spending more time elsewhere where I was energized and inspired. Certainly the residency in Italy was great: gorgeous surroundings, great company, a directive to make things. A little conservative, to be sure (Italy, not the residency), but creative and vibrant, indubitably. But then I got back from Italy, and fell apart all over again in Prague. No creative mojo, no nothing. Enter: Berlin.

I’ll try not to rhapsodize about the same things that everyone likes about Berlin: mostly, I’ll just say that it’s a deep feeling of recognition. I feel more myself when I’m there than anywhere else I’ve been in Europe. Which is kind of a strange, quasi-narcissistic reason to like a place, actually, but lemme tell you, when you’ve been a fish out of water for an extended period of time, it feels unbelievably great to be able to swim again.

I was rambling on and on to some folks here about how great Berlin is recently, when I saw a familiar, pained expression come across my German friend’s  face. She said wistfully and diplomatically, “Everyone loves Berlin.” In that dot-dot-dot way which made me wonder. I kept thinking about that moment, because I recognized in it a similar (if far grouchier) sentiment I express whenever someone is going on and on about how cool New York is. It’s not that New York isn’t cool. I just get super-tired of hearing people ramble on about how great it is, ad nauseam, when it’s not the only great city in the US.

But I have to concede that the things that to me are genuinely appealing about places like Berlin (or New York, I guess) are also the same things I love about the urban Bay Area, and certainly other cities, as well: Diversity. A kind of no-nonsense cosmopolitanism. Insane creative energy. Feminist/ queer/ people of color with recognized strength and voice. Anarchic decadence. World-class cultural institutions. An mouth-watering variety of ethnic food options. Dirty old vintage stuff for sale. Freak flags flying proudly. An insistent, energetic hum in the air.

Like attracts like, so I suppose it’s no big shocker that I’m attracted to the things that feel familiar to me, being such a product of Bay Area culture, myself. What’s so thrilling about Berlin, however, is seeing these things as unfamiliar variations, with completely different historical and political underpinnings. And so, after many months of feeling a constant, quiet isolation in Prague, I’ve loved that I feel like I’m able to relax, unfold and expand myself when I’m in Berlin. I get bigger. My energy gets bigger. I want to feel, do, make things again. It’s that good.


Thank you, Turkish people of Berlin, for this sublime greatness you have bestowed upon us

Rockin my J outside the KW Institute for Contemporary Art

a delightfully nutty project curated by John Bock at Temporary Kunsthalle

Yinka Shonibare at Friedrichswerdersche Kirche

The A. Wah and the J.Wah at the Filmmuseum

Heaven is a museum for East German motorcycles


After that initial spring revelation, I made 2 more Berlin trips over the summer with visiting friends, and each trip only reinforced its spell over me.
I’m going back up in a couple of weeks, as a bunch of my Manila friends are going to be there for a show. It doesn’t take much of an arm-twist to get me there, but that’s about as once-in-a-blue-moon, damn-fine a reason as any.

Game on

Monday, October 4th, 2010

M.O.B. hard at work from 3 different locales this past weekend.

One of us looks suspiciously like Mikhail Gorbachev was thrown in a blender with Imelda Marcos and Raggedy Ann.

Maybe that’s all of us, actually.

in the interim

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Man, these breaks from this blog aren’t getting any shorter. Not for lack of material, either. Maybe there’s something to the art of the annual Christmas Letter, where one just does a massive free-associative dump of all of the year’s news in one fell swoop. David Sedaris, of course, wrote one of the finest fake examples of this in “Seasons Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!”. And for years, my friend Nick has sent out an entirely real, and entirely strange and smart, holiday letter worthy of framing for its beautifully inscrutable, textual perfection.

But it’s still only September, so I better get off my ass and get things up to date, yet again. One thing that’s been pulling me elsewhere has been my other website (yeah, I’m like that guy who dies and everyone discovers his other secret family, one town over): I’ve mentioned it periodically, but since I was trying to keep the identities of my two sites fairly distinct, I didn’t trumpet about it too loudly.

See, the thing about moving here and 1, deciding not to teach in Prague, plus 2, the slow-going nature of building professional fine arts connections in Europe, is that this left me with no immediate sources of income in the fields in which I’ve been trained.

Teaching would have been the easy thing to do, but I’ve never been too good at “easy” (which is kind of a paradox, since I’m also lazy). I absolutely love teaching but I didn’t want to teach English (the most direct path to employment in Prague) enough to pay for TEFL certification, and to get into teaching art in the Prague university system would have taken more time than I’ve felt committed to being here for. On the fine art front, even if I were to meet a gallerist tomorrow who wanted to give me a show, it would be at least 6 months to a year before said show might materialize, and there would still be no guarantees that my work would sell. I’m not trying to be a pessimist or an excuse-maker here: just trying to set the time-and-money conditions which made freelancing a more practical income-earning decision.

So. For these reasons, I figured I’d try to build up some other related skills and see if free-lancing as an illustrator and designer might be something I could do in a more-than-occasional capacity. It’s slow-going, but getting better all the time. (That said, I’m always cruising for more gigs, if any of you have projects or referrals for me.) It’s forced me to learn some new skill sets, which I feel painfully behind on in comparison with friends who have been doing this professionally for years now, but I will say it’s actually been pretty fun flailing my way through the newbie thing. Beginners’ enthusiasm can take one far.

Some recent work for Hyphen Magazine:

For Engine 43:


The fine art thing is still happening as well, of course. It has not been abandoned.

Stephanie “Sisig” Syjuco invited me to participate in her “Shadowshop” project at SFMOMA, so I’m working on a few pieces for that.

The Eartha/Imelda project went on hold for  a while there, but I’m back on it.

There are some applications for other residencies, shows and other arts programs that I’m about to crank out.

If poor Sam Chanse isn’t sick to death of waiting for me to edit it, there will soon exist the Greatest Video Ever from a little project she and I worked on when she came through Prague at the beginning of the year.

Still taking pictures of portapotties and piles of cubes.

Have fallen in love with Berlin, and am trying to make things happen there (more on that shortly).

The Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. are doing our first project together in a few years, and in collaboration with Carlos Villa! We’re doing this long-distance with our dear friends at Green Papaya Art Projects, in Quezon City.  Working remotely and collaboratively has its challenges, but we diasporic types are up to the challenge.

Especially now that we’ve discovered iChat.

M.O.B. meeting, last week

GHOTCZ #11: Koudelka

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

I discovered Josef Koudelka‘s photographs when I was probably 18 or 19 years old: the image below spoke, and continues to speak, volumes to me. As a young grublet, I had already developed an interest in (then-) Czechoslovakia as well as photojournalism, and the context for and composition of this photo, taken at the foot of Wenceslas Square (václavské náměstí) in August 1968, seemed so fraught, and self-implicating, it seared itself into my brain. So much so that I took many of my own variations of this image periodically over the years. (In fact, I just asked myself right now why I stopped at all, and duh–it’s because I stopped wearing a watch.)

Every time that I’m at this site in Prague, I still think about the intensity of this image, its political and temporal tension.

While I imagine most people are glad that the political aspects of the square’s function have changed since 1968, it does feel slightly ridiculous and highly ironic to stand at this same vantage point in 2010, surveying a landscape of sloppy tourists on Segways, drunks prowling the girlie-bar circuit, and the logo-littered gauntlet comprised of the H&M/Ben&Jerrys/Starbucks/Marks&Spencer/Hooters/etc chains now choke-holding the area. (I almost implicated the ubiquitous sausage stands in my quasi-critique too, but I love them too much to reject them.) Wenceslas Square to an outside observer just seems kind of dumb and tacky when one doesn’t know the many layered histories and dramas that have unfolded here.

For a long time, Koudelka’s two monographs (Gypsies and Exiles) were exceedingly difficult to find: out of print, and only available at a mercenary’s price on eBay or through specialist booksellers. I was lucky enough to have stumbled on to an affordable copy of Gypsies as a kid, and I treasure it beyond measure: I was dumb enough to have also stumbled upon Exiles around the same time, and couldn’t justify the expense (which was ridiculously cheap, relative to its current market value) and so didn’t buy it. Over the years, I’d routinely prowl bookstores, wistfully hoping for a stray copy of Exiles to magically appear before my eyes. I figured/hoped someone would eventually republish those 2 books, but it never seemed to happen.

I didn’t know that Thames & Hudson had finally put out a new Koudelka survey book in 2006 until last week, when we found a copy in a bookstore here in Prague. That, coupled with also discovering a Czech-language copy of his seminal Invaze 68 photos (only published in 2008),  was more than I could ever have dreamed of.

Perhaps if I’d been looking a bit more actively in recent years, these books would have come to my attention sooner, but no matter: I’m just so grateful to have them now, and so to have been reunited with Koudelka right here in Prague. I’m also glad that I now have a great deal more Czech history, context and language knowledge with which to appreciate them. The Invaze 68 book in particular (pictures below) is all the more thrilling, heartbreaking, tragic and special to me,  since virtually all of the photos are taken in Prague, on streets I know very personally.

Exiles update!
Dreams just came true: I was so thrilled when I got these 2 books that I wrote a nerdy Facebook status update about it last week. My old friend Trevor, a really talented photographer I actually first traveled to Czechoslovakia with yeeeaars ago, happened to see said update, and promptly offered me his extra copy of Exiles. I am beside myself with excitement.


Monday, July 26th, 2010

Heads up, FOMOBs*! Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. videos are now on Vimeo! (It’s like Youtube, but better, and without deranged stalker 12 year old trolls having comment wars).

I’d had the photo documentation of our work on Wofflehouse for a while, but had never gotten the video thing sorted. Eliza/Neneng, bless her soul, recently belled the cat and finally got a bunch of our video work from 1997-2005 online for your entertainment (and ours).


Here are a couple of choice pieces from notre oeuvre (give the Frankenstein one a few secs to get going):

Mail Order Bride of Frankenstein from Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. on Vimeo

Always A Bridesmaid Never a Bride™ INFOMERCIALS from Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. on Vimeo.

(*=Friends of Mail Order Brides.)

LB, 25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Thank you for having been with us as long as you were.