As the local art scene diversifies, established and emerging galleries and groups find ever-increasing collaboration.
Text by Paolo Vergara | Photos courtesy of Fringe MNL
The worldwide Fringe festival has come to represent the uncurated, the avant-garde, and the untested corners in the art world, serving as a staging ground for works that won’t be found in most spaces. The same spirit prevails in the Philippine iteration, where both established and emerging local, diasporic, and foreign artists participate as an outlet for pure, unfiltered creative experimentation.
But lately, the mainstream has also welcomed works described as prodigal children, dark horses, and black sheep. Case in point are the more controversial paintings in recent art fairs, such as Richard Gomez’s celebration of manhood, for one.
Additionally, major galleries who’ve participated in the annual Art Fair Philippines have broken away from the event, starting what observers have dubbed as the “Alt Fair Philippines.” Slated to coincide with or precede Art Fair’s dates, Alt Philippines on its website aims to “reframe the art show.”
Cross-pollination as such, for this year’s Fringe Manila organizers and partner organizations, the notion of being revolutionary has come to include embracing tradition and welcoming the establishment, so to speak.
After all, when everyone’s trying to be different, then what is unique? On that note, aside from the annual stream of individual artists and independent troupes, institutions like the Yuchengco Museum and Lopez Foundation have reached out to participate. The former will be hosting an improv theater show while the latter will hold free screenings of restored classic Filipino films.
Komiket, an established annual komiks convention, also flies under the Fringe banner this year. Art Fair Philippines is also co-presenting with Fringe Manila this year.
The festival continues as a multi-arts, multi-venue platform centered mainly in Poblacion, Makati but with satellite venues in Ortigas and Cubao. Audience participation is highly encouraged as artists themselves will be holding workshops in burlesque, drag, live painting, and voguing, to name a few, while certain events are exclusively participatory, such as a veiled talent show “for introverts” and improv theater presentations across various venues.
Fringe Manila is divided into three segments: a pre-festival series (the Fringe Foreplay) from February 8-11, the main event from February 12-29, and the Fringe Hangover from March 1-15.
Additionally, with heavy representation from the performing arts in previous iterations, this year’s Fringe Manila has more visual artists signing up. Spaces such as the Astbury, Kondwi, Gallery in the Gutter, and Pineapple Lab will hold shows featuring artists like Arvin Alvarez, Jovin Lazaro, Tissa Pagaduan, Ian Inoy, Danielle Lopez, Abbey and Mariano Batocabe, Georjanno Abenoja, Chino Carlo Aracaya, Dar San Agustin, Janroe Cabiles, and more. Rhadem Morados will be screening a documentary about the history of Sulu, birthplace of the Moro nation. With emerging and established artists doing experimental works, art watchers have all the more reason to keep tabs on happenings here.
Fringe Manila, headquartered in Pineapple Lab, mainly serves as the “mediator between artist and venue,” says festival director Andrei Pamintuan. The organizers continued to receive applications well into the new year and worked tirelessly to find spaces to host these creative’s projects. Artists from Asia, such as muralist Yoyojin from South Korea, and beyond, like French painter Henry Lamy, will be testing works for a Philippine audience.
It’s this spirit of inclusivity and incubation which has come to define the festival. Fringe Manila Junior Producer Elliot Miranda reveals that the first Fringe Festival started in Edinburgh, literally on the fringes of a major art festival, when 8 troupes set up shop unannounced and uninvited and proceeded to hold their own shows.
Today, both festivals continue to run side-by-side. Since then, Miranda adds, Fringe-type festivals have sprung up all around the world, Manila included. Miranda herself has attended many an Edinburgh festival while studying theater there and has recently returned to the country to help produce this year’s Fringe.
Given the myriad shows, workshops, and performances spread across venues, the festival organizers recently partnered with a German expat and app developer to keep tabs on every event. The partnership and the consequent mobile app aims to map out and plot the independent and underground culture, culinary, and creative scene, with its own tab just for Fringe Manila.
Fringe Manila 2020 opens on February 8 and runs until March 15. For a complete schedule of events, please visit www.fringemanila.com or download the Be app at iOS and Play Store.