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Patrick Floresí Kalibutan

Ninfa Leonardia

The Visayan Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (VIVA ExCon) 2020 is proud to have the internationally-renowned curator, Patrick Flores, as curatorial head of the biennale’s 30 th year anniversary. “Dasun Recalibrate” is the new shape of VIVA ExCon 2020 with the exhibition theme “ Kalibutan: The World in Mind”.

Flores’ curatorial statement says that “Kalibutan: The World in Mind, the exhibition component of VIVA ExCon 2020, takes inspiration from the Visayan word  kalibutan, which refers to both the  world and  consciousness. It is a dense and intricate term because it brings together world-making and worldview. The world is embodied, on one hand, and the body is enworlded, on the other. It is rare for a word to register simultaneously cosmos and cognition. This is the prompt for our curatorial work on the Visayas: to create conditions for expressive material that responds to the range of stimuli of an active ecology to play out in space for Viva. This expressive material may be translated in many ways: object, sound, performance, image, moving image, text, and so on. The choices should not be confined to default expectations of contemporary art or to projects that end up in exhibitions.

The subsidiary title pertains to the state of being in the world, thinking through the world, and finally looking after it with care as well as with anxiety, affection, or even obsession. Mindfulness of the world acknowledges complicity in its production as well as the indeterminacy of its vastness.”

VIVA ExCon chairman Charlie Co shares that he values the professional relationship with Patrick especially because after a number of ExCons, the curator has knowledge of the history of VIVA and coupled with his in-depth understanding of the Visayan cultural landscape, there is follow up and continuity of vision, enriched with his global and local inputs. Co also finds it unique that this person, who is well respected in his field, hears him and the Visayan artists and treats the assembly as equals.

“It has always been a pleasure to help out in Viva in one way or another. I was born in Iloilo and spent my grade-school years in Tacloban and Cebu. For me, Viva is a success story, and a sustained one at that. And so, aside from the pleasure, it has been a constant honor to be part of this story and to make sure it continues to deepen. I also always learn a lot in every iteration of Viva. Like all art, it is an experiment and an imagination,” Patrick expresses in turn.

VIVA director Manny Montelibano affirmed that “we invited Patrick Flores to be the head curator of the VIVA Excon 2020 because he is one of the best curators in the world. I personally worked with him in the Venice Biennale when the Philippines participated again after 50 years of absence and this reopened another door to Philippine art. His curatorial leadership gave us the opportunity to comment on the state of the country as a global citizen of the world.”

Flores is professor of Art Studies at the Department of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines, which he chaired from 1997 to 2003, and curator of the Vargas Museum in Manila. He was one of the curators of Under Construction: New Dimensions in Asian Art in 2000 and the Gwangju Biennale (Position Papers) in 2008. He was a visiting fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1999 and an Asian Public Intellectuals fellow in 2004.

Among his publications are,  Painting History: Revisions in Philippine Colonial Art (1999),  Remarkable Collection: Art, History, and the National Museum (2006), and  Past  Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia (2008). He was a grantee of the Asian Cultural Council (2010) and a member of the Advisory Board of the exhibition  The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989 (2011) organized by the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, and a member of the Guggenheim Museum’s Asian Art Council (2011 and 2014). He co-edited the Southeast Asian issue with Joan Kee for  Third Text (2011). He convened in 2013, on behalf of the Clark Institute and the Department of Art Studies of UP, the conference “Histories of Art History in Southeast Asia” in Manila. He was a guest scholar of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in 2014. He curated an exhibition of contemporary art from Southeast Asia and Southeast Europe titled “ South by Southeast” and the Philippine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015. He was the artistic director of Singapore Biennale 2019.

Given the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic, the limitation imposed by necessary precautionary measures and the impact of such to the mindset of artists, VIVA ExCon 2020 has recalibrated the festival design to engage creative spirits in a virtual dynamics that is interactive, online and will bring together the creative community so as to rise to the challenge of the times.

It will start with the V-Conference in November 2020 that will include futures talks and curators converse that will discuss concepts, criteria, interests, and research process. It will be followed on a monthly basis by the continuation of the curatorial process as well as virtual conferences and related initiatives to include online workshops, artists’ talks and demos, webinars and online exhibitions, among others. It will culminate in July 2021.*

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