The VIVA Story

As it developed, this was the topic that most engaged the attention of the artists because they were concerned with problems of professional growth since many of whom were self-taught. One of the suggestions given was the possibility of using UP’s Pahingunod Program to help the artists upgrade himself. Vinluan noted that talented artists like H.R. Ocampo have shown that artists need not have degrees they just need to have contacts with other artists. Consequently since the Philippines is strong in non-formal education, it was suggested VIVA focus on the education of the artist.

In the workshop portion, Fajardo raised the question of whether there is such a thing as Visayan aesthetics and if there is, where are Visayan artists in terms of this? In view of this, the participants were asked to participate in an exercise where they were asked to view phenomenologically five works from areas other than their own, discuss their physical properties, form, compositional device and content and on the basis of these points answer the question that she raised. Although judging from the plenary session this all important point not sufficiently answered, as far as providing opportunities for contact and dialogue, VIVA EXCON IV showed nothing beats these periodic meetings. Thus even before the meeting ended arrangements were already made for a collaborative exhibit to be put up between the BAA artists and those from Cebu in Ayala Center and SM Cebu for September.

VIVA EXCON IV proved that much still needs to be fine-tuned about the biennial coming together. For instance, while guidelines adopted for the exhibit indeed facilitated taking home the exhibit materials, the paucity of entries in the exhibit portion appears to show that limiting the number of entries had its own disadvantages, as with setting a uniform dimension to the canvases which must have cramped the style of some participating artists who were accustomed to working on bigger canvases. Nevertheless, in terms of durability and opening up avenues for exchange and interaction, VIVA EXCON has shown that against all kinds of odds, the Visayan artists can unite in spite of their fragmentation. Though many of the problems the artists identified at the outset like the lack of support from the community, the high cost and the dearth of experienced curators and exhibition venues remain, by working together on their perceived strengths like the exploration of locally available art materials and inexpensive alternatives like handmade paper, terracotta and locally found objects, practicing collective curatorship and utilizing school campuses, unutilized public spaces, streets, ruins, cafes and bank lobbies as exhibition venues. VIVA EXCON has shown that through dialogues, consultations and interactions, artist can work out their problems together and in the process not only come to their own, but provide a paradigm for other artists’ groups to follow.