STOP THE KILLINGS! — 08.27.2020
Unbeknownst to the public, VIVA ExCon Capiz 2018 had a few unrealized projects for the main exhibition, Don’t Even Bring Water. One was a collaboration between Nona Garcia and Kawayan de Guia which suffered a logistical problem – Garcia’s work made it to Roxas while de Guia’s got stranded in Manila while en route from Baguio to Roxas. The other was supposed to be a major collective work by the Bacolod-based art group DIHON (Dibuhista Nga Naghili-ugyon sa Negros). The plan was to produce a series of large scale banners to hang inside the huge Roxas City Civic Center. Unfortunately, the principal artist involved with the project, Rafael Burdeos, Jr. died a few weeks before VIVA ExCon 2018’s ingress.
In 2019, Green Papaya got invited to participate at the Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) 2020 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We were given options to submit a work for the exhibition. To align with our ongoing archival trajectory, we proposed to produce and recontextualize DIHON's proposed VIVA ExCon 2018 banner project.
The large banners were to be made from used military/police combat/fatigue uniforms sewn together. Text in English and Bengali will be decided upon consultation with Bangladeshi counterparts (artists, activists, and cultural workers). Ideally, the text/s would resonate to both Philippine, Bangladeshi and other contexts. The banners were to be hung in prominent locations around Dhaka or outside DAS's main exhibition venue. Unfortunately, this too did not materialize and we settled with participating in DAS's symposium, Condition Report 4 organized by RAW Material Company (Dakar), with Papaya member Merv Espina participating.
But what exactly is this unrealized project? The killings of farmers, peasants, and activists in the Philippines have been happening across different administrations, but never in the alarming numbers that we are witnessing under the Duterte regime. All art is political and choosing to stay silent is political in that it affirms the status quo. DIHON's unrealized project was a rethinking of the protest murals and banners that have become a common practice among other progressive artists since the Marcos years.
In October 20, 2018, just a few weeks before the opening of VIVA ExCon 2018, nine farmers were killed in Sagay, Negros Occidental, less than two hours away from Bacolod. Those killed were members of the local chapter of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW). To address this, the political urgency of art and the social function of artists, Norberto Roldan read "Statement on the Sagay Massacre" during the closing plenary session of VIVA ExCon 2018.
Papaya dedicates this post to Zara Alvarez who was laid to rest yesterday. A staunch human rights activist, she was gunned down in Bacolod City on August 17, 2020.
August 27, 2020
#OustDuterteNow #JusticeforBaiMerlinAnsaboCelis #JusticeForRekenRemasog #JusticeForKaRandyEchanis #JusticeforBaeMerlinAnsaboCelis #EndMilitarization