Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

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Door #5 Blacksoup Project Art Space, Cubao

Named for a hearty dish called Black Bean Soup (for its coloring), Blacksoup aims to nourish the community and to set itself apart from the mainstream. Originally beginning as an independent filmmakers collective, Robert Quebral, Avic Ilagan, Ellen Ramos, Ricky Orellana, and Neil Daza find themselves as unlikely operators of Black Soup in Cubao. “The idea was to create a support system for those in the fringes of the industry,” explains Quebral, over a pasta dish in Black Soup’s café.

Only a few steps from Mogwai, Blacksoup’s distinctive blue-framed molding instantly draws a Cubao Expo denizen’s gaze. Right now, a clothesline hangs on its window-front. Instead of fresh laundry, it proudly displays small movie poster-esque snapshots announcing its activities: A Storytelling Workshop by Bodjie Pascua (or Kuya Bodjie for those who grew up on the Filipino children’s show, Batibot), Art for Teachers of Children by artist-designer-reporter Robert Alejandro, and an Animation Workshop for Kids by filmmaker Ricky Orellana.

Like its namesake, a warm dish that welcomes an array of ingredients, Blacksoup Project Artspace morphs according to the taste of its owners. Past activities include: a photography exhibit by international multi-media artist Jazel Kristin, a solo exhibition by Wawi Navarroza, a performance by Raul Alcoseba Center for Experimental Choreography, and a writer’s workshop by Lourd de Veyra. The Blacksoup calendar is sometimes filled to the brim, or not at all. Ilagan succinctly explains, “We let our walls breathe.”

Though very “particular about proposals” of exhibitions, Ilagan also avers they are also spontaneous. She describes impromptu brainstorming sessions where their collective would dream up the next few months’ calendar of activities. “Eventually, we really want a bigger café/ art/performance type place…ang daming artist pang gustong mag-present (so many artists, still want to present).” Yet, like true practicing professionals, making a living from their day jobs, Ilagan frankly lays down their situation. “Lahat kami, iba-ibang schedule and walang gustong mag-full time (We all have different schedules and no one’s wants to go full-time).” For now, the collective’s dream of a place regularly open to the public is put on hold; lucky for Manila, they continue to open their doors to new artists and serve up their Adobo Flakes Pasta with a generous helping of art on the side. [continued in next post]

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