Bellas Artes Projects proudly presents Fairest of the Fair, a group exhibition with works by Pio Abad (Philippines/UK) and Frances Wadsworth Jones (UK), Analivia Cordeiro (Brazil), Köken Ergun (Turkey), Jose Enrique Soriano (Philippines), and vintage photographs from the Mario Feir Filipiniana Library (Philippines).
The exhibition looks back at the widely circulated photographs of beauty pageants taking place at the annual Manila Carnival, held between 1908-1939, during the American colonial era. At times named Philippines Exposition, the carnival was a "world's" fair that promoted commerce and industry through pavilions-—displays of major American companies aiming to make business with the colony—and a contest of beauty queens, each representing regions and provinces of the Philippines. This event left a deep mark on the modern Filipino society emerging at the time, developing consumerism influenced by American models of enterprise and capitalism.
In retrospect, the Queens of Carnival are early manifestations of a certain enduring Filipino culture of pageants, symptomatic of the continuous reproduction of class, gender, and racial inequalities which are addressed differently across the works in the show: Ergun’s installation captures an annual pageant produced by the Overseas Filipino Workers in Israel that offers self-expression, escapism, and visibility to the migrant community. Soriano’s photographs witness the crowning ceremony of a beauty contest inside the premises of a mental institution in Mandaluyong in the late 1990s. The aspirational fantasy of monarchy, which drives part of the desire in pageantry culture, and the perverse relationship between luxury and social control are acutely epitomized in Abad and Wadsworth Jones’ virtual render of a tiara sequestered from Imelda Marcos when she sought exile in Honolulu in 1986, while Cordeiro’s choreography for an all female dance group—generated by computer programming and aired on Brazilian television in the late 1970s during their own authoritarian regime—unmasks the fixated grids of representation and social mobility, as well as the quest of a fair subjectivity within them.
"Internal Properties of the Earth" is American artist Lucy Raven’s first solo exhibition in Asia. The exhibition presents ten years of work that stem from Raven’s longstanding exploration of the American landscape through its analog and wireless connections to global networks of labor and material extraction and exchange across China, India, the Philippines, and the United States.
The exhibition debuts a new photographic series Fire and Mud (2018-2019), drawing inspiration from the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Central Island of Luzon state and the subsequent evacuation of the nearby Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City to examine the ongoing effects of American colonialism in the country. Raven explores this history through photographs, produced as part of an ongoing film project developed over the last two years as part of her residency at Bellas Artes Projects in Bataan, Philippines.
Clark was the largest US airbase outside the United States for most of the 20th century—backstage for America's involvement in all of the wars of the Pacific theater, the site of Reagan's evacuation of Ferdinand Marcos; and a city in itself with a resident population of 15,000. Despite growing Filipino opposition to the base beginning the 1980s, the US military showed no signs of leaving—until Mt. Pinatubo's unexpected eruption (beginning on, of all days, Filipino Independence Day) forced its evacuation and eventual return of the base to the Philippines. Due to its massive energetic detonation, Pinatubo ejected not lava, but a molten, ashy, pyroclastic flow, called lahar, which, combined with an ill-timed typhoon, distributed the material in a devastating spiral of ashy downpours throughout the region. Lahars, known as wet concrete, solidify as they cool, first burying, then immobilizing anything in their path. They also have a seemingly endless afterlife: each new significant rainstorm remobilizes inert lahar deposits upstream, causing a cascade of destruction and uncertainty. Raven’s Fire and Mud series is a study into these unpredictable state changes from liquid to solid and back again, as a means to explore the larger implications and effects of state change.
During their residencies in Bataan, Begum, Rahman, and Sultana collaborated with the artisans at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar to create abstract expressions of their emotional engagement with the physical landscape of the Philippines, often by experimenting with found industrial and building materials. The title draws inspiration from the idea of reading forms found in architecture and creating new languages for living in the hybridity of the 21st Century.
Bellas Artes Projects is pleased to announce the opening of Incarnator, a solo exhibition by Paul Pfeiffer, curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt. The exhibition opens on July 7, 2018. This exhibition expands from the artist’s internationally acclaimed eponymous video which is further brought to life through a series of life-sized sculptures, all of which were produced during Pfeiffer’s six-month residency at Bellas Artes Projects in Bagac, Bataan, Philippines in 2018. Pfeiffer is a pioneer in video, sculpture, and photography using recent computer technologies to examine the role that mass media plays in shaping consciousness. By incorporating these references into his videos, his work reflects a contemporary culture fixated on popular culture and celebrities which plays a major role in shaping the political realities we experience today. Pfeiffer invites his audience to exercise their imaginations and project their own fears and obsessions in his works.
Bruce Conner: Out of Body is the first major exhibition of this important American artist in Southeast Asia, curated by Artistic Director Diana Campbell Betancourt. One of the most influential artists of the Post War era, Bruce Conner (1933–2008) worked simultaneously in a range of mediums, including drawing, printing, collage, photography and film. Conner’s work lives past the artist’s lifetime as collective memory and his first comprehensive retrospective, Bruce Conner: It’s All True toured from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid in 2016 through 2017.
Bellas Artes Projects is pleased to present ‘Busis Ibat Ha Kanayunan (Voices from the Hinterlands)’, an exhibition by Cian Dayrit. During his residency at Bellas Artes Projects, Dayrit focused his research into the history and mythology of the Ayta Magbukun community of Bataan, a deeply marginalized Indigenous Peoples group in central Luzon, examining their position in relation to colonial and post-colonial history and their representation in ethnographic studies of these periods, in close conversation with members of the community. The exhibition was part of an ongoing project from his residency.
Cagayan Garden (2017) takes inspiration from Alfredo Aquilizan's personal history growing up in Cagayan and his and Isabel's artistic concerns with displacement, change, memory and community. During their residency in Bataan, Isabel, Alfredo, and their children collected posts of antique Filipino houses that had been relocated to Bataan as part of the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar's collection of heritage houses. Together with other materials they gathered from the workshops, the result is an exquisite zen inspired garden where one can contemplate the journeys that the houses, and the families who once lived inside them, underwent in order for the garden to come into existence.
Internationally acclaimed Polish artist Pawel Althamer (b. 1967) traveled to the Philippines to participate in a residency at Bellas Artes Projects that was centered on the annual procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo. Coming together every January 9th in one of the world’s largest peaceful gatherings of humanity, devotees believe that touching the surface of the image of the Black Nazarene will bring about a miracle. Millions come together in the hope that their prayers will be heard. Quiapo has for centuries been one of the most diverse districts of Manila, where the Catholic, Muslim, and Chinese community co-exist in close proximity. The exhibition Nazareno; Quiapo Constellations was born from this inspiring context.
Visitors were enchanted by a score that Amorales and musician Julian Léde commissioned from the legendary Guatemalan composer and sound artist Joaquín Orellana (b. 1937), which is Orellana’s unique take on a segment from the classic Disney Film Fantasia. The short film “Orellana’s Fantasia” from 2013 registers the shadows of a performance by Orellana, who built a set of instruments that are analogue models made to perform as if they where electronic instruments, called útiles sonoros (sound utensils).