Tuesday, June 22, 2010

WHAT, HOW, AND FOR WHOM? (Questions for the art scene in Manila)

Clever artist-curator types know that foundations, institutions and similar grant-giving bodies give support towards a credible cultural/artist community. We often write in proposals terms like "community", "art scene" or whatnot, and juxtapose them with pretty words like "thriving, burgeoning, innovative, etc" -- are we really writing observable facts, or simply filling in for the holes? To which community are we referring to? The one we are in? Or the none yet existing one we are trying to help create? Is there even such a thing here? Hard to admit, but I often get confused. Yet we still try to pursue whatnot. It often feels like a perennial struggle.

I can only speak for my city -- Manila. As it's often ridden with bullet holes that form into questions and gaps amongst communities. Oftentimes, the delineation is not so obvious as various people wander and come together in artist-watering holes/centers, where scenes form and decay: Penguin, Greenpapaya, Mowelfund, Club Dredd, Mayrics, Inka, Cubao X, Crazy Daisy, Saguijo, Espasyo Siningdikato, B-side, The Collective, etc etc...

Actually how is a center formed and what are the factors that contribute to it? Is it possible to create one deliberately? If not, why, and is it at least possible to optimize conditions for/encourage their spontaneous generation? - resounding a friend's response to my 18-page proposal with an intention to cultivate/network art practice/communities.

As I see it, networking only becomes relevant if it happens to contribute / hasten / improve / support a particular idea or set of ideas (and ideas leading to projects) that would benefit the participating folk, the institution where these were hosted/developed, and the audience and environment in which the particular project or idea revolves in. Why do we have the tendency to network superficially? Or don't network at all? And how easy or hard is it to do that with our context here in Manila? How do we achieve or formulate a science of encouraging spontaneous networking/convivial spaces? Are there existing methods available here? Are there clues or collated data on how it has worked/ hasn't worked so far? (debatable)

A friend wrote on her wall while describing her "ethnography":
"Social, technological and discourse innovation happening simultaneously: Hackerspaces? FabLabs, Techshops, NexFab? Community Labs? Maker community groups and spaces?
DIY organizations? Coworking experiments? Community labs? Membership-based, high-tech workshops? Prototyping centers? Gym for innovators? Living labs open innovation communities?

More questions.