On its 6 th year, Fringe Manila continues to champion experimental art, daring all and baring all.
Text and photos by Paolo Vergara
Draper Startup House in Poblacion, Makati, witnessed the February 12 launch of Fringe Festival Manila 2020, the local yet independently-organized iteration of the international staging ground for uncurated, untested, and uninhibited works.
Artists usually align works with unspoken parameters in many art fairs, festivals, and exhibits. While art essentially pushes previously established boundaries, the nature of mainstream locations and spaces is such that caution still has to be taken to make art marketable.
Enter the Fringe Festival.
True to the spirit of challenging the established, Fringe Manila coincides with Philippine Arts Month, providing extra flair – and perspectives – to the local art scene.
With over a hundred shows around the metro, the festival contains art for everyone: komiks, improve theater, burlesque, voguing, new spins on painting, photography, sculpture, music, documentary. You name it, they’ll make it.
For the performing arts, lodestar groups to follow are theater groups Chopsuey Improv and Langgam Performance Troupe, the ladies and gentlemen of Burlesque PH, the comedians from Deus Sex Machina, flow art troupe Legato Visual Performing Arts, Fil-Am dancer K.GO, Fringe regulars Daloy Dance Troupe, and Filipino-Canadian collective Immigrant Lessons in a dance-and-visual performance titled Origins in collaboration with Mark Valino and HAMPTON.
This year’s Fringe Manila has more visual artists signing up as well. 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.
The festival is also a platform for cross-cultural and diasporic dialogue. Korean muralist Yoyojin aims to color Poblacion. Japanese collective Sakai International Community Arts will be collaborating with local painter Adam Red for a tea ceremony-inspired set. French painters Henry Lamy and Maïa d’Aboville sway with dance artists Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, Ea Torrado, Leeroy New, and Olivia d’Aboville for a multidisciplinary exhibit.
A major element is also audience participation, so be sure to look out for the many workshops in dance, aero, live painting and rope bondage as well as fourth-wall breaking improv theater and blind performance nights.
Tribute to a cultural icon(oclast)
During the night, a spontaneous moment of silence arose for Carlos Celdran. Daniel Darwin, the festival’s master of ceremonies, spoke of Celdran’s role in leading a push for more candid conversations on the Philippine cultural landscape, stepping on a few toes but opening many eyes. Celdran’s enduring presence and work was felt throughout the room amidst the silence as both the artists present and the guests felt the electric charge and urgency in earnest.
This was complemented by and in turn complementary to teaser sets from various performing arts groups and soloists like Nica Del Rosario, who composed the hit Tala popularized by Sarah G., Fil-Canadian acroyoga duo KASA consisting of Kaye Peñaflor and Sam Jarvis, a vogue set by the House of Mizrahi PH, a branch of the eponymous New York house, a burlesque tease by The Star Ore, and a hybrid of vogue and burlesque by The Addlib Divas.
Suffice to say, the partying was hard. I can imagine Celdran, at once irreverent and compassionate, nodding in approval.
Fringe Manila 2020 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.