writings, projects and exhibitions of Clarissa Chikiamco

Friday, March 30, 2007

For Philippine Video Art? More Things to Come

My article on the End Frame Video Art Project was published as "Frame by Frame" on 25 September 2006 in The Philippine Star on pages F-4 and F-2. It was also the first article for my column and the text published in the End Frame Video Art Project exhibition catalogue. The article (slightly edited) is below:

For Philippine Video Art? More Things to Come

By Clarissa Chikiamco

Today marks the opening of the End Frame Video Art Project, the first Philippine video art festival, at the North Court of Power Plant Mall. Spearheaded by Visual Pond, a non-profit organization co-founded by this author with fellow art managers, and under Power Plant Mall’s Focus on the Arts Program, End Frame aims to call attention to and create discussion on video art done by Filipino artists and experimental filmmakers.

Throughout the duration of the festival, September 25 – 28 at the North Court, Power Plant Mall and September 30 – October 4 at the Cubicle Art Gallery, guests can expect to see a total of 18 works from over 40 that were submitted from around the Philippines. They were selected by the End Frame Curatorial Team composed of Teddy Co, member, National Commission for Culture and the Arts Cinema Committee; Anne Marie de Guzman, director, UP Film Institute; Rica Estrada, cofounder, Visual Pond; Eloisa May P. Hernandez, assistant professor, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines-Diliman; Fatima Lasay, new media artist and curator; Marinella Mina, cofounder, Visual Pond; Raymond Red, independent filmmaker and myself.

The beginnings of this project can be traced to August last year when I met Kentaro Taki, director of Videoart Center Tokyo, at the Asia-Europe Art Camp in Bandung, Indonesia. Surprisingly, he told me that Filipinos weren’t participating in the video art festivals he organizes and this raised a question on where the Philippines is in terms of this art form. Knowing that a number of our country’s artists create video art and video installations (and very well conceptualized ones at that) our organization was spurred into initiating this project, hoping Philippine video art would gain more exposure that would give our local artists more opportunities to exhibit their video artworks.

Video art, though, should not be confused with simply video. The medium of video alone is insufficient to classify something as video art. The idea and intentionality of the artist must be considered, particularly its noncommercial nature and yes, the art-for-art’s-sake thing again, as well as the conceptual value garnered by the viewer. Of the latter, de Guzman summed up the feeling during the screening of entries, “You know it [video art] when you see it!” (Of course, one must take into account that the “you” is always relative which is why there’s hardly ever, if ever, a 100% consensus on what is art and what isn’t.)

If that seems rather murky, Videoart Center Tokyo gives rather clear-cut criteria on video art: no straight narrative/documentary, no commercial film, no Mtv, no Hollywood lookalike and no easy animation/3D/CG. This black and white definition is sure to meet resistance from some artists who feel caged in by classification and who know some video artworks which don’t fit such delineations. It is something we agreed on that should be taken as a general guideline with flexibility for exceptions or else, as Co would tell me during our frequent text message discussions, “anything goes.” In order for video art to advance, a kind of structure to build on is necessary.

Video art is another realm being explored by Filipino artists and, as the publication of a still of Tad Ermitano’s work Hulikotekan v. 2.1 in the latest issue of Time proves, our artists have got what it takes to burst into the international art stage. It’s with this frame of mind that we formed a partnership with The One Minutes Foundation, an organization based in Amsterdam that collects one-minute videos from all over the world. End Frame entries that were one-minute in length (though the festival is not limited to one-minute works only) were sent to compete in The One Minutes Annual Awards as well as to be screened on Salto TV, a Dutch television channel, in the latter part of this year or early 2007. A selection will also be made next year to represent the Philippines in the Olympic One Minutes, an exhibition of one minute videos from all over the world at what is likely to be the Millennium Museum in Beijing, China before the 2008 Summer Olympics.

This Olympic One Minutes will also feature distribution/exhibition of works via mobile phone, demonstrating that today’s art can be viewed by simply reaching for the device in one’s pocket. Video art’s increasing use in the visual arts scene is a result of the times we live in when even McDonald’s puts a plasma television in their store and we are continuously exposed (or assaulted?) by moving images in the everyday. The language of this media resonates with a broader audience and the accessibility of technological equipment enables artists to shoot and edit on their own.

Exhibition though can sometimes be a problem, particularly in video installations that use multiple monitors. That’s why I tip my hat off to the Listening Group of Companies, particularly their Chief Operation Officer Levenson Rodriguez, for the technological support not only for End Frame but for the Philippine video art scene. The Listening Group of Companies, together with Visual Pond, plans to sustain the momentum of this project through a continued showing of video art in the three different Listening branches at Power Plant Mall, Alabang Town Center and Shangri-la Plaza. Turning the stores into a kind of art gallery (but a gallery that shows primarily video art), this is the first program of its kind that we anticipate will contribute to the progress and development of video art in the Philippines.

One wonders, however, how far video art can go without financial support. While a new breed of art collectors is amassing young, contemporary and avant-garde art, would they go so far as to collect video? In our culture of piracy and mass reproduction, how much is one willing to pay for a video artwork? How can video art be enjoyed by a collector? What is the role of our art museums in terms of this new media?

There are many questions unanswered still and perhaps all the more elicited from the project. Yet, as long as more people become aware and start thinking of these possibilities, stimulating dialogues and discussion, it’s a certainty that we will have a healthy local video art scene and it’s with feeling that I believe we are on the tip of an iceberg, with many more things for video art to come.

The artists and the artworks that are being shown in Power Plant Mall are Adjani Arumpac, Ab Ovo; Ramon Bautista, The Persistence of Vision; Jasmin Bernardino, One Becomes Two; Bea Camacho, Enclose; Dante Dizon, Light Headed; Tad Ermitano, Hulikotekan v. 2.1; Rodel Gadapan, Glimpse of Reality; Mitch Garcia and Ian Madrigal, RPG II: Culture Shock or Culture Sucks; Miguel Gonzaga, Premonition; Antoinette Jadaone, It feels so good to be alive; Richard Legaspi, Kahon and Claro Ramirez, Jr., Bandera.

End Frame at the Cubicle Art Gallery features an exhibit of mostly video installations. Artists and artworks at the Cubicle are Poklong Anading, Dribbling Colors; Kacey Pamintuan, freakshow; Gary Ross Pastrana, Gravity Builds a Poem; Andrei Salud, Banyo Drum Solo; Jevijoe Vitug, Classical Scandal and Rembrandt Vocalan, Swimming Around.

Power Plant Mall is located at the Rockwell Center, Makati. The Cubicle Art Gallery is at Stella Maris corner C. Raymundo St., Maybunga, Pasig. For more information on the End Frame Video Art Project visit http://endframe.visualpond.org or email visualpond@yahoo.com.

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