Upon the recommendation of Tupada Action and Media Art (TAMA), we were invited to the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF) Performance Art Shinsyu (Nagano) Autumn Seminar 2010 by its organizer and director, Seiji Shimoda, to represent the Philippines beginning Saturday, October 23, until November 6. Aside from performing, we are supposed to deliver a talk thrice: on 24 October in Tokyo, on 28 October in Osaka, and on 2 November in a mountain cottage in Nagano. More or less, we are preparing a country report of sorts. Thus, in our own little way, we would like to give them the brand of our performance art, through our powerpoint and audio-visual presentations, focusing on the silent yet consistent efforts of TAMA, an artist-organized performance art event here.
Since July 2002 at Kanlungan ng Sining in Rizal Park, TAMA has offered time and space for visual artists, poets, cultural workers, activists, sound artists, professionals from various industries, students, among others.
TAMA constantly aims to create meaningful visual performances, to converge artists from different countries around the world, and to immerse them in living conditions in the Philippine context by continuously exploring such media as sound art, video art, computer graphics and other forms of artistic electronic permutations in performance.
Through the years, TAMA has been in partnership with NIPAF since its inception, the relationship between the two organizing bodies staying strong for eight years.
To date, these performance artists who have participated in NIPAF are Maki Calilung, Sherwin Carillo, Thom Daquioag, Boyet de Mesa, Rommel Espinosa, Mitch Garcia, Marlon Magbanua, Sam Penaso, Kaye O’Yek, Ronaldo Ruiz, and Mannet Villariba who eventually serves as our savior after taking over from Dominique James as our art director for our upcoming book Kayumanggi -- wherein our poems are set into music by Fer Edilo and turned into designer clothes by Lorina Javier – that would hopefully be included by Dr. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo in the 400 titles of University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in time for the Quadricentennial Celebration of UST next year.
This year, TAMA selected us on the following grounds: “Mr. Nadera straddles both literature and the visual arts in his practice, creating works filled with historical references and endless permutations of the Filipino identity. He has brought honor to the country through his writing and other works, and continues to mold individuals into dynamic proponents of culture and the arts through his teaching and advocacies.”
For all the kind words, we would like to personally thank TAMA – especially its Artistic Director Boyet de Mesa – formaking us the first non-TAMA Core member to make it to NIPAF. By the way, Boyet is a socially committed visual artist who rocked the art world last 10 September at the University of the Philippines' Ishmael Bernal Gallery during the opening of the UGATLahi Artist Collective-initiated exhibit Nasaan? dedicated to such young artists and cultural workers -- who gave their lives in pursuit of social justice -- as Tanya Domingo, Ian Dorado, and Alexander Martin Remollino who will be remembered for his quotable quotes: “History for you was never a mere calendar of events / Your pen was a million megaphones, loud speaker upon loud speaker, / for the chorus of voices / silenced by official histories. / And now, / the last page of your life is writ. / But your annals are etched in stone in the people's history. / And so you will never be history.”
Joining us are other Asians: Iwan Wijono (Indonesia), Hasna Hena Porosh (Bangladesh) Aishwarya Suultania (India) Eun Sung (South Korea), Thwe Thwe Aye (Myanmar). American Morgan O'Hara of New York will be jamming with us only in Osaka. Mostly, performing with us and Mr. Shimoda are Japanese namely Saki Hayashi, Masaki Hirose, Noriko Horii, Midori Kadokura, Kashu Kashu Meba Kurata, Osamu Kuroda, Yumiko Masada, Leona Misu, Kanako Nagai, Noriko Ohashi, Koji Ohike, Bunpei Suzuki, Momo Takahashi, Ryosuke Tanaka, Harumi Terao, and Arika Yamaguchi.
At least, for this experience seems surreal to be so real.
Come to think of it: people from Nagoya who want to watch us are all ready, willing, and capable of spending the following: JPY2,000 or PHP 1,000 (student, advance, one day) or JPY 2,200 or PHP 1,169 (student, door, one day), JPY2,500 or PHP 1,342 (adult, advance), JPY 2,800 or PHP 1.472 (adult, door), and JPY 1,500 or PHP 779 (high-school student). Likewise, in Tokyo and Osaka, there are expected to pay JPY 6,000 or PHP 3,203 (student, door, 3 days) while JPY 7,000 or PHP 3,722 (adult, 3 days). In Nagano, JPY 4,200 or PHP 2,207 (student, 2 days) and JPY 4,800 or PHP 2,554 (adult, 2 days) will be charged.
Wow, this practice alone sets Japan apart from other countries, including our own.
Here, nobody would pay that much, then as now, to get a glimpse of, say, Yuan Mor'O's body protected by a mere G-string, gyrating to some inaudible music created by a choir of head-banging silkworms, tired of and retired from spinning cocoons the said artist loves to cultivate in his typhoon Juan-flattened hometown in Isabela.
Which is why, only the rich and famous Syjucos can afford to produce a performance art series, almost monthly in and out of galleries -- like their recent family show Picasso Boutiqued Residences at Salcedo Village in Makati City -- without begging for financial assistance from the Japan Foundation or the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, for instance. Or the likes of Baldemor family whose middle child, Monnar, can get away with his flight of fancy, whimsy, and humor in his 6th solo exhibit Ethereal, that ran until last week at SM Megamall's Galerie Y!
So you can just imagine the challenge.
That brings us to our Philippine High School for the Arts' Advisory Council meeting at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Board Room. Fr. Carmelo Caluag, the new PHSA Executive Director, reminded us that most of the scholars' parents discourage their kids from taking up art-related courses in college. And the most common denominator among their reasons is economic in nature. So, in the end, we came up with a proposal to do what the Philippine Science High School has been doing with its graduates. Part of the contract with Pisay and its scholars is the agreement to pursue science courses upon graduating from high school. Upon approval, this payback scheme could see the light of day starting June of next year. Then, only those qualified PHSA hopefuls -- who agreed to take must say yes to study, say, Fine Arts or Arts Studies -- can get in!
However, being a hungry, or angry, Filipino artist that we are always try to exert extra effort not just to entertain but enlighten our audience as well, paid or not.
Last week, Mr. Shimoda forewarned us that NIPAF is not a wealthy organization, merely an artists' group. He asked us to be more patient about our accommodation, food, and transportation.
We replied with a smile and an assurance from his favorite Rabindranath Tagore: “I carry in my world that flourishes the world that have failed.”
Then, he opened up his new plan to have a NIPAF Tour in Asian countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Phillippines. He is thinking of having performance art exchange between NIPAF and TAMA by April 2011.
Fatherly as ever, he ended with a weather report: “Now in Japan getting colder. Of course not like winter, but sometimes you need long sleeves shirts or sweater.”
Well, we simply shrugged it off, knowing that with the company of high spirits united by a forward-looking leader with a vision, we can stand the test of autumn.
While remembering our own father and son on All Souls' Day, away from home.