Soils of the Earth in Transit-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
LANTAPAN, Bukidnon -- What a way to celebrate the recent Talaandig Festival than to celebrate it with art. And to know that in less two weeks, “Memories of the peoples of the earth: The revolution of the Talaandig People” will be on view at the Singapore Biennale 2013: If the World Changed which will run from October 26, 2013 to February 16, 2014 at the Singapore Art Museum 8Q. Other venues are the regular galleries of the Singapore Art Museum, the National Museum of Singapore, and the Peranakan Museum.
It’s been 14 straight days that 10 Talaandig Artists have been working on their most ambitious and largest painting project to date and it is almost done. This was two months ago.
Much earlier at more than two weeks, Salima Saway-Agra-an, began doing the pencil works on the four-panel canvasses at the newly constructed second level of the art-cum-music studio of RJ Sumingsang Saway. The other eight participating artists have had added their own pencilled visualisations and images as they build-up on their individual and collective memories on their changing tangible and intangible life-scapes of Talaandig Territory in Songco.
Then they created volume and depth by using 14 types of soil painted on canvas. These were sourced at the foot of the Kitanglad mountain range -- their ancestral land.
The landscape has become a familiar image in paintings. This is depicted artistically either as real views, or from an imaginary composition of selected scenes from varied locations, or the images allude to a past long gone, or the scene is an impression of light and movement.
Moreover, in southern Philippines nestled on the slopes of Kitanglad mountain range in Bukidnon province, the landscape formed literally as material that forms the soil painting project of the Talaandig Artists.
Yes, they used soil from their ancestral land to create visions culled from their tribe’s collective memory and personal lived experiences.
The artistic process engages each participating artists to contribute ideas to the project. It brings forth realities and stories what they communaly share. It is like doing a Talaandig communal and cosmological map of collective experiences. Despite the seriousness, it is done with banter, good humour, and verbally remembering their stories and memories.
Memories of the people visualises the Talaandig’s shared land and world, where they negotiate the layered engagements in a multicultural Mindanao region and milieu. The indigenous peoples (Lumads) including the Talaandig do not exist in a void. The Talaandig’s sense of order traverses between the contemporary and traditions; their mythologies and hard realities; the agricultural behemoths and the sustainable farming; the earthly and the spiritual; the locale and the cosmopolitan; customs and innovativeness; connections between the indigenous and settler-roots communities; remembering their ancestor spirits and honoured elders, among others. All visual elements are depicted from varied earth hues, shades, and tones.
In 1994, Rodelio “Waway” Linsahay Saway, the artistic leader of the community, introduced soil painting to the young Talaandigs. They sourced clay on foot, experimented its pigment qualities, and enhanced its binding qualities that culminated in their first collective show in 2006.
It further expanded their creative works besides weaving, oral literary tradition, music, dance, chants, and tribal prints. Their works continue to be exhibited and recognised all over Mindanao, the rest of the Philippines, and their overseas stints. The Talaandig is one of the leading ethno-linguistic groups in Mindanao and the Philippines in asserting their self-determination rights through their living traditions and contemporary expressions.
The Talaandig Artists is headed by Waway Linsahay Saway. He is joined by Marcelino ‘Balugto” Necosia Jr.; Raul Sungkit Bendit; Soliman Poonon; Salima Saway-Agra-an; RJ Sumingsang Saway; Nino Dave Tecson; Christian Lloyd Eslao; and Adelfa “Nanay Ipa” Saway Kinuyog.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 20, 2013.