Untitled (Donna Miranda repost) — 06.04.2020
Twelve years ago, as the threat of eviction from Green Papaya's second location loomed, I spotted an almost abandoned unit along Kamuning Road. It wasn't exactly nondescript. A tall old Nara tree stood in front of it. And beside it was a namesake furniture shop. The property caught my attention because I remember uni days when my housemates would invite me to join them at Risiris. Risiris was the bar that previously occupied the spot that we now know as Catch 272/Green Papaya.
Because the property seemed to be in obvious state of neglect, we suspected that we could manage to negotiate an affordable price for rent. Green Papaya Art Projects was always a hand-to-mouth existence kind of organization; in 2008, the organization received a small grant somehow that helped augment operational costs. The property though seemed fitting for the change in programming that we were going to take -- focus on residencies, talk and discussions, rehearsal spaces for dance and music performances and workspace. And yes, our suspicion proved accurate.
A little over a month of frenzied renovations, building permit, moving stairs, fixing floors, installing plumbing, and installing electricity, Green Papaya moved to its new home in Kamuning. I always did make a joke (in my head) about the place being a fire trap, and in the few months I lived at the second floor, half-awake-worried about the place catching fire. After a few months though we learned to live with that precarity. For a few years, it was home not just to visual artists, it was also home to the short-lived performance company "The Lovegangsters" where we had an opportunity to incubate ideas that need not be presented or performed.
I officially stepped down as Program Manager of Green Papaya in 2010 to be 'other than artist'. My Green Papaya colleagues Norberto Roldan and Mervin Espina did a commendable job expanding its program and network and made a good call sharing the space with Tao Aves and Aplue Apauls' Catch272.
The combination Catch 272/Green Papaya as we all now know it opened us space not just to more artists but also activists and peasant advocates, educational discussions and gatherings. SAKA's first convenors meeting--its founding--was held at Catch 272 and has since become a space that welcomed and supported us. It is heartbreaking to see it damaged by fire. But also heartwarming to see the support, compassion and love that its kindred have extended.
As we used to say at Green Papaya in the old days, GP is like the fruit it was named after, "always in the state of becoming". I'm confident it will emerge back up and complete the work it has set out to do.
June 4, 2020