Archive for February, 2010

philippine handicrafts around the world

Monday, February 15th, 2010

From Hawaii to Hong Kong to North Carolina to Florida to Italy, I love that I can find authentic regional seaside shell handicrafts (actually crafted in the P.I.), anywhere in the world. I’ve seen these exact same designs my entire life: I can picture them in every souvenir shop in Manila I’ve ever been in since I was small.

In the U.S., legally they have to leave a “Made in the Philippines” tag on the merch, but not in Italy, apparently…These, from a shop in the coastal town of Nervi.

mind Bogl-ing

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Well, it’s already Day 5 of my Bogliasco Fellowship, ladies and germs: one week in Italy, five weeks still to go. I need to explain perhaps, yes?

Several months back, I found out that I was accepted as artist-in-residence at the Bogliasco Foundation’s Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities.  Along with other creatives and scholars, I am working here for about a month.

After some weeks in snowy, wintry (but lovely) Prague, my California self is embracing a Mediterranean coastal climate once more: the weather’s not exactly warm yet, but it’s comfortingly familiar, and today, the sun is out, the orange and mimosa trees are glowing, and I’m revelling in this ridiculous, surreal, sublime place.


I left Prague Saturday morning, figuring to kick around Italy for a couple of days before arriving at the Centro Studi Ligure Monday morning, and so I decided to spend one night in Milano and one in Torino en route.

By sheer dumb luck, the Milano hotel I chose was some sort of alternate-universe fantasy from somewhere in my subconscious, conflating my mint-y nurse drawings, my general fixation with all things durian-green, and Motel Cucaracha.

Plus, much of the hotel staff was Filipino, so I happily delivered  some Magandang Umagas in the morning alongside my Buongiornos. (Naturally Milano, like much of urban Italy, is teeming with Filipino workers, which only made me feel even more at home.)

Having neither been to Milan nor really planned what to do there, I figured I’d just drift and improvise. I did the requisite tourist check-ins at the Duomo and the Galleria, moseyed past some large snails, then wandered over to the Teatro alla Scala Museum for a peek at that legendary, gorgeous theatre.

While there, I happened upon a postcard for—pitty-pat, heart attack of excitement—a Yayoi Kusama exhibition at PAC Milano. For all of the years that I’ve been such a huge fan of her work, I’ve seen next to none of it in person, and so to be in the presence of so much of it just absolutely broke my ribcage open.

The next morning I packed up, left my bag at the hotel reception, then took the metro over to the Triennale Design Museum. Operating words for the design exhibition: thoughtfulness. Imagination. Inquisitiveness. Intelligence. Refinement. Thoroughness. And of all things, the new temporary exhibition also at Triennale was a massive Roy Lichtenstein show, which truly blew me away. Again, for all the years in which I’ve seen his work in reproduction, and often felt uninterested in his ubiquitous place in US art history, I have to say, it was truly remarkable to experience it in person. Between the Kusama, Lichtenstein, and design shows I saw, I’ve been reflecting on a renewed sense of how scale and first-person immersion make all the difference.

Sunday afternoon, I took the train over to Torino, to reconnect with my friend Giuseppe, whom I hadn’t seen in seven years. We were in mutual-clowns-in-residence in La Napoule in 2003, and hit it off so well there that after the residency I went and crashed with him in Italy for a few days, which was when I last saw him. It was so fantastic to reconnect and resume our clowning, right where we left off. Giuseppe also happened to be composer-in-residence in Bogliasco a few years ago, so I was able to pick his brain about what to expect before I arrived there, myself.

I arrived in Genova on Monday morning, bleary and vaguely hung-over from too little sleep and too much grappa in Torino, a little apprehensive about how to present myself at such an elegant residency (I’d read that jackets and ties/equivalent dress for women were expected for dinner each night, and hello: it’s a villa on the Ligurian Riviera…). From the minute I arrived, however, it was, and continues to be, the most extraordinarily warm, welcoming experience. The early-arrival Fellows had lunch together with the staff in the center’s main Villa, (aka the Villa Dei Pini, aka the VDP), and were then escorted to our respective domiciles. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground when shown to my bedroom in Villa Orbiana, up the hill:

And let’s not even get started on my studio in the little stone cottage, nestled in the olive trees, further up the hillside. Sigh.

And then there are the aforementioned-semi-formal dinners. (Given the pace at which I’m eating all of these divine Ligurian meals, I may need to procure some elegant, elasto-waist action slacks.)

I haven’t really explored Bogliasco or Genova yet: these past few days have been about settling into the Centro Studi Ligure, puttering in my new studio, and enjoying getting to know the staff, other Fellows, and their partners. And the P arrives this evening, and stays for a week, so I’m sure we’ll do some exploring this weekend.

Sing it, Shirley:

Someone get me a top hat and a red wig. Pronto.

Scavenging the Cultural Apocalypse

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Well, as long as we’re on the subject of creative exchange between the US and the Philippines, let’s take a second to embrace this event, which doesn’t involve any Michael Jackson DVD promotion. At least, I don’t think.

It’s happening this Saturday in Manila at Carlos Celdran’s beloved Living Room/Syquia Apts (ground zero for Galleon Trade 2007‘s shenanigans), involving some folks I absolutely adore and miss to pieces:

Music of the Lost Cities: Scavenging the Cultural Apocalypse

(A Networked Sound and Visual Jam)

FEB 6 — 20:00, Living Room, Syquia Apartments

“Lost Cities” is a psycho-geographical, mixed-media narrative that explores pre and post apocalyptic urban landscapes and architectural backdrops through imaginary characters named “the sub-colonials” who move, dance, and tread through these past, futurist, and surreal environments. Collaborators in the project, that involves interactive computer-generated sound and video, are Chris Brown (Sound) and Johanna Poethig (Visuals) from Oakland, California; and Tad Ermitaño (Visuals), Caliph8 (Sound) and Malek Lopez (Sound) from Manila.
They will present their work-in-progress and discuss its artistic intentions and technical implementation with the audience.

Presenting the Oakland-Manila Art Exchange:

Chris Brown, composer, pianist, and electronic musician, creates music for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, for computer networks, and for improvising ensembles. Recent recordings of his music include “Boundary Layer”, a 3-CD box set of new and old computer network music by The Hub, on Tzadik, “Cutter Heads “, duets with Fred Frith on Intakt, “Talking Drum”, binaural recordings of interactive installations interleaved with environmental soundscapes on Sonore; and “Lava”, for brass percussion and electronics on Tzadik. He is also known for his recorded performances of music by Henry Cowell, Luc Ferrari, Jose Maceda, David Rosenboom, Larry Ochs, Wadada Leo Smith, and John Zorn. He has also performed and recorded extensively with The Hub, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, Rova Saxophon Quartet, Ikue Mori, Alvin Curran, William Winant, Glenn Spearman Double Trio, among others. In 2005 he created TeleSon, a composition for two ReacTable instruments performed in a joint concert between Ars Electronic in Linz, Austria and the International Computer Music Conference in Barcelona, Spain. He teaches electronic music and composition at Mills College in Oakland, where he is Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).

Tad Ermitaño, media artist, writer and filmmaker. As far as the media art goes, he is interested in algorithmic/procedural editing and composition, new uses for the moving image and have been lately drifting into elementary robotics. His work “Quartet” was exhibited in the recently concluded International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA) in Singapore.

Johanna Poethig, a visual, public and performance artist who has exhibited internationally and has been actively creating public art works, murals, paintings, sculpture and multimedia installations for over 20 years. She has worked in collaboration with other artists, architects, urban planners, design teams, arts commissions, specific communities and cultural groups. Poethig’s public art works intervene in the urban landscape, in neighborhoods, on freeways, in parks, hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, cultural centers, advertising venues and public buildings. She has received numerous commissions and awards for this work. Her paintings, sculpture and installations reflect her interest in satire, symbol, human nature, society and our consumerist culture. She has produced and participated in performance events that mix feminism, global politics, costume, props, cabaret, experimental music and video.

Malek Lopez, Berklee-trained virtuoso who is the principal composer for the band Drip, and half of the abrasive electronica duo Rubber Inc, who are responsible for establishing electronica in Manila. He is also a well-noted film composer.

Caliph8, beat smith, graffiti bomber and soothsayer. A lynch-pin of various groups and ensembles, he’s probably the most sought after sound manipulator in the Philippines. His output extends to more than just sniffing aerosol paint and flexing wrists with fat markers–he also creates visuals and projects them while manipulating audio and creates sound collage.

Feb. 6 — 8 PM

at the Living Room in Syquia Apts., MH del Pilar, Malate
Hosted by Living Room (Carlos Celdran) and SABAW Media Art Kitchen