The VIVA Story

On the other hand the conference component was meant to provide “a mechanics for the discussion and assessment of parallel artistic development in the islands, give an opportunity for analyses of academic theories and other relevant issues and serve as the context for a better understanding of various aspects of contemporary art practices.” It as likewise meant to provide a “historical perspective on the various art and craft traditions of the islands and generate resolutions” (VIVA EXCON Folio, 1990).

As it turned out, VIVA answered such a hunger for exchange, the biennial meetings became more of conferences than exhibits. In a field where it is practitioners are better known for their divergence rather than convergence, the artists were surprisingly one in their need to promote regional cultural exchange and meaningful cooperation. This is ironic in view of the fact that within Bacolod itself VIVA failed to unify diverse artistic groups for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was ideological. Thus although initially VIVA was meant to be a project of the Bacolod Arts Council, in the end BAA had to do it alone. That it succeeded at all, is nothing short of remarkable, considering the financial and logistical demands of such an effort. Prior to this the only time the Visayan artists came together was when the CCP Coordinating Center for the Visual Arts and the Outreach and Exchange Program sponsored two mural-making workshops in Negros Occidental in 1987, one in La Carlota, another in Escalante. The project provided such a productive interaction between artists from Cebu, Panay and Negros that the participants were convinced of the need for more collaborative efforts with other artists’ groups in other regions.

BAA was formally founded in 1986 after the installation of Corazon Aquino as President. Having worked together during their CAP years even when, according to Roldan, “finances were running on vapor.” the BAA artists not only honed their capability to survive but forged a working relation, devoid of the divisiveness that usually characterizes and paralyzes many organizations. This included having a run-in with the more conservative and rightist elements of Negrense society over SNAP IMAGES, an exhibition by the Visual Arts Section of CAP that almost failed to open in the conservative Art Association of Bacolod (AAB) Gallery because it was branded by an overzealous city councilor as “left-leaning” and rejected by a well-known art association founder as “offensive” and “trashy.”