Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

[continued from previous post]


Sign of the times
Far from being exhaustive, these five spaces indicate the diversity of the term artist-run space. From a venue for upcoming artists to an enabler of artist mobility, artist-run spaces fulfill the niches that are left open by the current art infrastructure. Their proliferation in all shapes and sizes across the country, and the rest of the world, has left an art community somewhat puzzled. Visual Arts and Museo Director of Cultural Center of the Philippines Karen Flores opines, “I would like spaces to really define what they are.”

To understand this phenomenon’s beginnings, one has to recall a piece of history. While by no means a new concept, Andy Warhol’s Factory in the 1960s being the most famed example, the Philippine art scene has experienced a resurgence in these artist-art managers in the late 90s. Upon closer inspection, this flourishing seems to stem from two converging factors: market dynamics and technological capability.

Dissatisfied with the current system unable to take risks on experimental works, artists—especially new graduates—took matters into their own hands. Aided by the advent of the digital revolution and open-source do-it-yourself movement, artists realized creating a space was a distinct possibility. Flores explains, the criteria for an art spaces “has been redefined…the standard has changed.” The standard of the Luz Gallery—cited by National Museum curator and art historian Patrick Flores as “Manila’s most respected art gallery at the time”—with its pristine white walls and distinct artistic sensibility, no longer applied.

Within their assigned spaces, artists could shape the means to an envisioned end. Roldan explains, “Simple lang naman ang logic ng artist run space eh. Artists create their own space…to have their own platform,” explains Peewee. Using such logic, it is then inevitable to be confronted with a gamut of physical manifestations. And, if Caringal’s assertion that “everything an artist does must carry a sense of artistry” holds true, then these artist-run spaces are as much artwork as physical entity.

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