writings, projects and exhibitions of Clarissa Chikiamco

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A little update

Normally, I simply post my existing writings in this blog or comment on some project in the works. Today, however, I thought I would go into a bit more detail on what's been on my mind, particularly having moved back to the Philippines after living in Australia for two years.

To recap, I graduated just last March from the University of Melbourne with the degree Master of Art Curatorship. My studies were undertaken as a recipient of the Australian Government's Endeavour Postgraduate Award, a merit-based scholarship. A few weeks after receiving my degree, I was given notice that, together with another student, I was on the University of Melbourne's Dean's Honour List, an award given to the top five percent graduating students in their respective courses with a certain minimum grade. I actually wasn't aware that such an award existed but it is nice and certainly encouraging to be academically reaffirmed for my work for the past two years, which has really been my studies.

So that was then and what about now? Well, now that my masteral studies are over, the question I get most often is if I am going back to Australia to work or go somewhere else abroad to find a job. At the moment, I am Manila-based and I intend to work here for the time being - a very conscious decision that is certainly not without its frustrations. I did have the option of staying in Australia but I chose to return home. The great thing about working in the arts in Manila is that there are so many things to do here and that can be done here (theoretically anyway). The difficult thing, however, is being stonewalled by things such as lack of funds, people with lack of vision, lack of financial compensation and age. Personally, it is quite a struggle to be hammered by these things, particularly having lived in Melbourne where the government provides a lot of funding for the arts, progressively having realized the benefits it gives to the state. The art scene there was a lot more professional as well and that of course goes back to the amount of funding an art scene has (whether by the state or through private patronage).

On the age issue, I must comment a little on it - as it is precisely an issue. I do feel it is difficult for me to be taken very seriously at times here in Manila because I am quite young and in person, I look even younger it seems (as I have been told). I would be the first to admit that I have a lot more to learn (I am even considering doing a second master's degree). But I do have problems with people being automatically dismissive of me simply because of my age, particularly when they haven't even read or looked at my work. Age was never an issue in Australia as is the case in most Western countries I believe. And having had at least a couple of incidents here where it was made glaringly apparent to me that my age seemed to be a liability, I can't help but of course be disappointed at certain people's short-sightedness.

Moving on to what I have been up to - Currently, together with my former teacher Boots Herrera, I'm working on an exhibition of modernist/postmodernist Lee Aguinaldo that will be held in the Ateneo Art Gallery at the end of the year as part of the museum's 50th anniversary. I have also been busy shooting and editing Visual Pond's latest project - ARTiculation, a Philippine contemporary art series online which features an artist for each episode (for 10 in a season). Visual Pond, for those who are unfamiliar, is the nonprofit organization I cofounded together with fellow art management graduates Rica Estrada, Tenten Mina and Cheska Tanada. We do projects together in addition to our individual careers.

For our first episode, we shot Mark Salvatus and for the second, we featured Christina Quisimbing Ramilo. I'll post soon separate blog entries with embedded videos but for now, you can simply find the videos in Visual Pond's youtube channel at http://youtube.com/user/visualpond. I am currently editing the third. The series is actually pretty straightforward information, aiming to be a primary and easily accessible source on Philippine contemporary artists.

Asides from what I've mentioned, I am also working on writing more regularly for Star, at least for what space they can give me. The first part of my article ,'The Struggle for Philippine Art - Then and Now', has been released today and I am working on the second part this week for next Monday.

I have also been reading on video art history or rather, histories in looking into seriously furthering my research and writing on video art here. I have 1,500++ pages of readings and this is probably only just the beginning. This is also groundwork into research I will be doing next year on the video art collection of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum as their selected researcher in residence. If you have any books to recommend that I add to my reading list, I would appreciate you firing me off an email to letterstolisa@gmail.com.

And that's all for the moment, folks.

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