Exhibition, confab seen to boost Visayas's artist community

BACOLOD. Viva ExCon 2020 team headed by chairman Charlie Co (third from left) and event director Manny Montelibano (left) during the press conference on the 16th Biennale Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference at the Orange Project in Bacolod City Friday, January 10, 2020. (Erwin P. Nicavera)

POSITIONED to further strengthen the local art community, about 400 Visayan and international visual artists are gathering for the 16th Biennale Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (Viva ExCon) in Bacolod City in November 2020.

Viva ExCon 2020 chairman and Negrense artist Charlie Co, in a press conference at the Orange Project in Bacolod City Friday, January 10, said the longest-running biennale artist-run exhibition and conference is a platform that has spurred positive impact to the local artists' community.

Co said it has been giving more opportunity for "non-mainstream artists" and the venue for them to be scene, to show their works.

"The local art scene has evolved, the landscape has become very strong," he said, adding that this is strongly evident as Viva ExCon has been existing for 30 years now, it has become the voice of the Visayan artists.

The Visayas-wide biennale exhibition and conference was started by the art group Black Artist in Asia in Bacolod City in 1990.

Since then, it has become an effective artist-centered blueprint where other initiatives have been patterned after.

Viva ExCon mainly aims to celebrate Visayan art by bridging the islands of the Visayas so as to provide a venue to facilitate dialogues, interaction, networking and cultural exchanges thus, addressing fundamental and relevant issues among visual art communities and other stakeholders.

ExCon director Manny Montelibano, also a Negrense artist, said it is the fifth hosting of Bacolod City of such huge gathering of artists in all three regions of the Visayas.

Montelibano said this year's edition is mainly aimed at empowering local art practices and enabling them to become relevant to the challenges of the changing times.

"Through the ExCon, we want to explore opportunities for collaboration and forging of resources among sectors of the community," he said, adding that this is also geared toward responding to art-related issues proactively and design a preferred future for the artist community.

The theme, "What Now," is in keeping with future studies which postulates possible, probable and preferable futures and the world views and myths underlying them, the organization said.

"What Now" seeks to understand the context and circumstance of the art community in relation to the sectors of the community it coexists with, what is likely to continue and what could plausibly change.

Part of the creative initiative is to seek a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, promote inclusivity, and determine the likelihood of future events and trends so as to better respond with alternatives towards a much-preferred future, it added.

The activities during the Viva ExCon 2020 include art fair talk and launch, tribute, archival and collateral exhibitions, Visayan Community Fair, conference proper, and organizational meeting, among others.

Themed "Kalibutan: The World in Mind," the exhibition component of the

event 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 conference, meanwhile, is mainly focused on visual artists but exhibitions are open to performing and other forms of art as well as to the public.

This is really creating more awareness about the importance of art in making the Philippines a more "colorful" nation, Co said, as he stressed that it is a challenge especially for the next generation to sustain another 30 years of strong artist community.


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