Dasun: VIVA ExCon 2020

Dasun: VIVA ExCon 2020


Lani Maestro, School of Love, 2018. Neon. Photo: MM Yu, from Calle Wright. Image courtesy of artist.

December 21, 2020
Dasun: VIVA ExCon 2020
The 16th Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference
November 8, 2020–July 31, 2021

Kalibutan: The World in Mind
December 1, 2020–July 31, 2021
The main exhibition of VIVA Excon 2020 helmed by Patrick Flores as chief curator.

A Seminar on a Possible Exhibition
December 1, 2020–July 31, 2021
A series of virtual seminars that supplements the main exhibition.

​VIVA ExCon (Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference), one of the most sustained artist-initiated biennales in Southeast Asia, organizes its 16th iteration in Bacolod City in Negros Occidental.

It opened on November 8, 2020 and will evolve patiently in phases until July 2021 for a hybrid exhibition and discursive program. Formed in 1990 in part by the collective Black Artists in Asia with other groups and institutions, the itinerant VIVA ExCon has striven to carve out a space and perspective for artists in the central islands of the Philippines called the Visayas. Through its efforts to foster an inter-island ecology distinct albeit not isolated from the art world in the capital of Manila, VIVA ExCon across thirty years has achieved a collaborative and participatory ethos of art making, mutual support, and solidarity unique in the Philippine archipelago. 

Chaired by the visual artist Charlie Co and directed by the inter-media practitioner Manny Montelibano, VIVA ExCon 2020 promises to be responsive to the conditions shaped by the pandemic and offers an agenda that rethinks notions of the festival and the exhibition. Facing the prospects of the future, it holds up the name Dasun, a Hiligaynon word that means “next” and an idiosyncratic connective in everyday language to signify “and then.” It thus speculates on the things to come as it narrates stories of an ever-turning present.

Opening in November was an interdisciplinary conference on future studies, convened by the writer Jade Snow Dionzon. True to the spirit of the word dasun, it examined how the arts are viewed and harnessed in the various spheres of society. By mapping time, direction is anticipated along the axes of family, business, education, and governance. It involved artists, intellectuals, educators, civic leaders, and civil servants from the Philippines and overseas.

The main exhibition of VIVA ExCon is Kalibutan: The World in Mind. With Patrick Flores as chief curator in collaboration with six curators from the Visayas, the project will unfold incrementally in modular form from December 2020 to July 2021. Flores directed the Singapore Biennale 2019 and will curate the Taipei Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2022. The six curators—who are artists, scholars, and cultural workers—are Mars Briones, Guenivere Decena, Jay Nathan Jore, LibyLimoso, Nomar Miano, and Maria Taniguchi.

​The exhibition takes inspiration from the Visayan word kalibutan, which refers to both the world and consciousness. It is a dense and intricate term because it brings together world-making and worldview. The world is embodied, on the one hand, and the body is enworlded, on the other. It is rare for a word to register simultaneously cosmos and cognition, speculation and the universe. This is the prompt for the curatorial work on the Visayas: to create conditions for expressive material that speaks to the range of stimuli of an active ecology. Mindfulness of the world acknowledges complicity in its production as well as the indeterminacy of its vastness. From December 2020 to July 2021, the scheme of A Seminar on a Possible Exhibition, a supplement to Kalibutan, will play out virtually around the following nodes: Curators Converse; Artists Explore; Works Disclose; and Exhibitions/Not Exhibitions. This seminar sensitively attends to the reconstitutions of the chastened world in pandemic time in the context of the viral and the vernacular.

The 18 projects of Kalibutan for VIVA ExCon 2020 by artists who have links to the Visayas at different levels, working and living in the islands and elsewhere, are:

AR. SCULPTURA and EyeCan Creatives / Charles Buenconsejo / Denli Chavez / Farida Kabayao, Ron Espinosa, & TM Malones / Gabi Nazareno / Joar Songcuya / Joshua Serafin / Lani Maestro / Leo Abaya / Mona Alcudia / Paolo Amascual / Perry Argel / Regional Art Forum / Retired Artist / Rhine Bernardino / RV Sanchez / Soika Vomiter  / Solitaryo Cinco (Khriss Bajade, Bastinuod, Mark “KDLT” Copino, John Villoria)

Alongside collateral presentations and archives, VIVA ExCon will organize in 2021 exhibitions on artists from the province of Negros Occidental who have enriched the cultural field of the Visayas and beyond: Nunelucio Alvarado, Brenda Fajardo, Leandro Locsin, and Lino Severino.

For more information, visit the VIVA ExCon 2020 website.  

RSVP for Dasun: VIVA ExCon 2020
December 21, 2020

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