Curated by Patrick Flores and Carlos Quijon, Jr.
What the Artists-in-Residence of Global Grace has achieved in this project is not so much the production that is exhibited and will circulate in digital space, but the process through which it was created with care, anxiety, and expectation. While the creative form is without doubt an accomplishment as well, it is the patience of making this form possible in this tough time of the pandemic that is truly promising.
In many ways, the work that the artists have done for this residency speaks to an urgent ecology of their own everyday life as well as the everyday life of a global emergency. An awareness of this requires attentiveness to their own intimate vicinity as well as an analysis of what is going on around the world.
The artists are described as entry-level artists. This is an interesting characterization. I think to be at the level of entry, a threshold, is a good place to begin exploration and experiment. It reveals the impulse of artists, their inspirations and their aspirations. That they find themselves at this point or in this phase in pandemic time makes the experience all the more intense and humbling. It should make them cherish more whatever attempt at creative production they have been able to offer. This is only the beginning of continuous learning and unlearning as the world turns sometimes not according to plan but always within the compass of decisions. To make art is an instance of decisiveness and decidability.
For this exhibition online, we thought of a curatorial framework that enhances the work of these artists and the potential of a hospitable digital space. We proposed a mode that acknowledges the conditions of the efforts and their possibilities as they come in contact with other efforts before and beyond the residency. We see digital space as its own context that offers a compelling mediation of the exhibition, the work, its public, and the potent agencies that abound in the exhibitionary context. The digital discerns prospects and possibilities in the experience of the exhibition from the conceptualization, production, access, circulation of works, down to concerns of the exhibition’s afterlife. This entails considering the digital exhibition not as mere migration of the conditions of physical exhibitions to virtual environments. As the digital affords the exhibition certain leeways in the gathering of people and materials in virtual space and allows for various experimentations on form and display, so does it demand particular forms of attention and intuition.
We see the digital exhibition as another opportunity for the residents’ work to craft its own community, to create contexts for encounters between their art and kindred spirits—the constituency it anticipates. It is this kind of relationality that we endeavor to encourage for this exhibition. It is important for the exhibition to situate artistic practices and processes within vaster ecologies—be they the organizations that have informed and continue to inform the artists’ art making, or the sites in which their creative processes transpire and thrive, or the social contexts and traditions in which they imagine their artistic interventions to be conversing with or participating in.
The range of forms and concerns of the works for the exhibition flesh out the embeddedness of the artists’ practices in queer social life: from the complexity of domestic dispositions and relations in Isma’s and Sam’s hypertext poems and Leal’s spoken word video performances; the intricacies of the intimate in Lex’s animation short film, Pul’s film, and Isay Gavica’s and Paul Joshua Morante’s zine and zoom performance; poetic learning and unlearning of the self and the anxieties and fulfillments in its making and unmaking in Mac’s, Faith’s, and Joe Henry’s films and even in Sukinichi’s app, or in the places and spaces where this can be cultivated in Alex’s paintings and assemblage works and Alikabok’s film; and, the entanglement of labor and practice in not only queer self-sufficiency and survival but also in their contentment and thriving in Kishan’s and Mrs. Tan’s performances. In all these, practice and process offer trajectories of mapping out a vibrant social life of queerness—one that is never solipsistic, but is engaged and attentive, ever at the threshold of sympathy, a common feeling, learning about oneself and others.
The virtual exhibition purposefully delays casting the works as queer, or in a more sociological typology, as LGBTQIA+. On the one hand, it recognises that the work emerged from, and was enabled by, an artist in residency programme that sought to provide a caring and convivial space for self-identified LGBTQIA+ artists whose queer subjectivities and identifications have frequently met with hostility and erasure in daily life as in public cultures. On the other hand, it responds to the sheer plurality of the identifications, subjectivities, and concerns from or against which the works speak; allows these tendencies to play out; and in this way resists preempting the experience of the works or the way each artist’s own lived experience has mediated these recognizable categories, sometimes in very unexpected ways. The exhibition, as a context in which prolific agencies simultaneously prosper, becomes an exemplary site for these considerations to seek measure or altogether pursue another rhythm. This exercise performs the dilemmas of having to describe these practices quickly and sometimes too easily, confronting our ways of naming, giving each artist and their work the chance to find their way through whatever lexicon is within their vicinity or what might be on the horizon. It questions the normativity of “queer art” itself through the works of non-binary, non-cisgendered, asexual, and trans folks that ask related but irreducibly significant questions. The exhibition then becomes a good opportunity to reconsider or repoliticize the tricky task of making people belong. To characterize these works as entry-level then not only speaks to the emergence of these new voices, but also to the boundaries they breach, the breadth of understanding they work towards, aspire to.
© 2021. GlobalGRACE Philippines