Archive for February, 2010

Minimum Yields Maximum!

Friday, February 19th, 2010
Ooh, if I could just teleport to LA for a few hours for this exhibition! Galleonista Gina Osterloh has organized a fantastic show featuring many members of our talented Manila/Cali barkada, as well as some other phenomenal suspects from other edges of the Pacific rim. The show opens this Saturday, February 20, 7-10 pm, at Monte Vista Projects.

Monte Vista is pleased to announce Minimum Yields Maximum, a group exhibition curated by LA-based artist Gina Osterloh, featuring work by artists from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Los Angeles. Along with the exhibition, Monte Vista will host a book release event for Sarita See’s (Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, University of Michigan) new book The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance. All of the author proceeds will go to the environmental justice organization FACES (Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity).

The artists in Minimum Yields Maximum work through a conceptual lens that considers everyday materials, and often engages greater social inquiries—a type of art practice that is both wide-ranging and inclusive. Many of the artists from the Philippines have studied and/or collaborated with artist and teacher Roberto Chabet. Perhaps this exhibition is a reminder that the Philippines has never hailed a singular geographical identity. It is also an appeal to shift art history, to consider a conceptual and political art model that includes the Pacific Rim. Most importantly, as an artist, curator Osterloh has felt a strong resonance between the selected works from Manila and those from the United States. The works in this exhibition refuse to be easily identified or placed geographically. Instead, they build upon structures of loss, humor, rupture, trauma, and obliteration.

More information about the exhibition is at

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


The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of forty thousand years

Friday, February 5th, 2010

You know, when you extract song lyrics, they sometimes end up seeming almost…Shakespearean.
And speaking of tragedies, this travesty of choreography is just too much to bear.

Everyone’s a dance critic, I know, but I’m sorry: how many kinds of wrong can this be?

It’s well-known how obsessed I am with the Cebu Prisoners (aka the Dancing Inmates), and as far as I’m concerned, Byron Garcia is the Zhang Yimou of my imaginary Philippines Olympics Opening Ceremonies. But THIS wretchedness, wrought by an interloper, is just not making the cut with me.

Apparently, Michael Jackson was a fan of the dancing prisoners (as well he should have been). In the aftermath of his passing, and the posthumous release of the concert film “This Is It” in theaters and then DVD, Cebu prison program head Garcia was convinced to yield his reins to Michael Jackson’s primary choreographer Travis Payne, which in theory would be the logical conclusion and culmination of the Cebu Prisoners-Michael Jackson nexus. Perhaps symbolically it still is: incaracerated individuals with little to no personal agency dancing out pop imperialist promotional material….I really don’t know where this leaves notions of a prison-industrial complex. Maybe just prison complex.  Or complex prison choreography. Something.

There’s really just too much for me to write about the following, so here are my general first impressions:

  1. Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” in Halloween colors
  2. ultra-creepy military formations
  3. tight regimentation really ruins all the fun
  4. moves that might have been jazzy on a 98 lb weakling alone center stage do not have quite the same effect when employed by a handful of beefy american showboaters surrounded by hundreds of prisoners marching lock-step
  5. once again, filipinos become the backdrops for someone else’s fantasia
  6. lighting and video quality is better: I will concede only this
  7. the bizarro parading-about of a Martin Luther King placard in some sort of cross-promotion for civil liberties in prison could seem symbolically appropriate under certain circumstances, but here = wack and exploitative in the worst way
  8. sorry: orange pants only look good with orange shirts in this situation
  9. Unbelievably lame t-shirts promoting the the DVD release worse than prison uniforms
  10. white MJ rorschach blob on shirts looks like A, dead silverfish, B, texas longhorns logo, C, horsehead skull, D, all of the above
  11. disco moves could be put to far better use
  12. no zombies, nuns or trannies = lame
  13. “pubic triangle” formation of probably little relevance to either Jackson or the inmates
  14. a peace symbol formed by prisoners all shaking their fists in the air just seems plain wrong.
  15. What I really wanna know is: When’s the Wonder Girls DVD release going to happen?

“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin’
He wouldn’t let this beeeee….”

wait- who doesn’t understand?

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Soooo, I just received this pretty interesting call for submissions yesterday.

I’ve got some concerns about it, but I think it could be pretty great, too.
First, the call. At the bottom, my thoughts on it.
Teen Age: You Just Don’t Understand
Curated by Ken Goldberg

An art exhibition at the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco during ZER01′s 2010 01SJ Biennial Art Exhibit and Festival in Fall 2010.  Seeking proposals for works of art by collaborative teams that include at least one person under 18 and one person over 21.

“Here we are now, entertain us.”  – Nirvana

“High school’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses.” -J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Teenagers push the boundaries of accepted behavior in every era.  They thrive despite raging hormones, clueless parents, ridiculous authority figures, and the dawning recognition that the entire status quo is absurd. They will define the future of new media.
Teen Age: You Just Don’t Understand is the working title for an exhibition that aims to illuminate and challenge the shifting roles of new media in contemporary life, from Facebook to Flickr to texting to Twitter. We seek to encourage collaboration between teens and more experienced artists.  Submitted artwork can address any contemporary issues at the intersection of art, technology, and culture and can be in any format or medium (electronic, painting, photography, sculpture, etc.)  but must be submitted by collaborative teams that includes at least one person under 18 and one person over 21.
Accepted works will be exhibited at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco to coincide with the 2010 01SJ Biennial: “Build Your Own World”:
Submissions are due 15 March 2010
Submission Guidelines:
Submit the URL of a website that briefly describes your proposal listing these 6 aspects: 1) Title, 2) Concept Description (up to 500 words), 3) Images (up to four), 4) Bios of team members (up to 200 words each), 5) Format and Technical Requirements:  list hardware and software needed to present your work, spatial and sound requirements, what equipment you will provide, and what you will need from the gallery, and 6) Contact information. Sorry, no attachments or other format accepted. Please email the URL to Catharine Clark Gallery with the subject line “Teen Age ExhibitionProposal.”
Works must be completed and delivered to Catharine Clark Gallery by July. More specific information about opening date to be announced at a later date.
For questions about submissions, contact Catharine Clark Gallery at (415) 399-1439 or email

OK. So, first: I’m really, genuinely excited that a space as well-regarded as Catharine Clark is willing to host an exhibition that involves teenagers, and especially one that necessitates collaboration, at that! Seeing as teens are a rapidly dwindling part of the San Francisco population, it’s nice to see a different kind of art space (other than the ones who’ve had excellent youth programs forever, like SoEx) put some focus on them. I like the new media aspect of this, too.

Here are my sticking points: I really dislike the assumptions implicit in a sweeping statement like “Teenagers push the boundaries of accepted behavior in every era.  They thrive despite raging hormones, clueless parents, ridiculous authority figures, and the dawning recognition that the entire status quo is absurd. They will define the future of new media.” It does a disservice to teens, and presumes much about their lives, and their access to technology (beyond their presumed at-a-minimum iPods, cell phones, and social media). I’ve worked with kids who were too poor to have a cellphone, and too humiliated to admit it. Choosing profoundly dated quotes by your go-to white male American anti-heroes doesn’t really widen the pool of suggestion much, either. I fear that this is a set-up for an equally narrow subset of applicants, too: the Venn Diagram showing where fine art, new media, gender, collaborative projects, and youth intersect tends to be a profoundly privileged and narrow little slice.

However. Please prove me wrong. I’m not bitching about these things because I think this project should fail. Far from it. I want it to succeed, but I also want it to reflect a genuine diversity of experience, culture and gender. Please forward this call on to anyone you know in arts, art education, or hell, who’s an interesting, creative teenager. I hope that this gets distributed widely, because I genuinely do want to see it do well.