Nothing to Declare (NTD) is a multi-pronged, multi-venue and multi-media international art project conceptualized by Flaudette May Datuin (Department of Art Studies, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines), Josephine Turalba (Dean, School of Fine Arts and Design, Philippine Women’s University) and Precious Leano (Executive Director, Filipino Visual Arts and Design Rights Organization or FILVADRO).
NTD comprises a series of 3 exhibitions at the Blanc Compound (18 October – 12 November) curated by Karen Flores, Yuchengco Museum (16 November – January 2012) curated by Claro Ramirez, Jr., and University of the Philippines Vargas Museum (18 November – January 2012) curated by Leo Abaya. Coordinators Prof. Sharon Mapa Arriola (School of Design and Art, Lasalle College of St. Benilde) and Prof. Tessa Guazon (Department of Art Studies, UP) complete the core NTD team, who are working with numerous volunteers and partners.
The exhibit at Blanc Compound is ongoing: https://nothing2declare2011.wordpress.com/blanc/
I have no Borders to Declare, Eva Petric@Blanc
The exhibitions feature around 50 artists from 18 countries whose artworks were selected by the Curatorial Board headed by Datuin from more than 100 submissions that responded to the Call for Proposals in 2010.
The series of exhibitions is a starting point for pedagogical, art-critical and art-education activities, including visits with host communities, art educators’ training workshops, an essay writing contest, education guides and guided tours and artist talks and forums for students, artists, cultural workers, academics and the general public.
Participating Artists are working on a range of media, from painting, drawing, photography, video, documentary film, sound-based works and installation. Some of the works require collaborations with local artists and workshops with communities.
Gaps and Silences: Picnolepsy
These artists and their works will come to Manila to participate in a project with a participatory, collaborative and makeshift framework, whose primary aim is to contribute to contemporary discourses on migration, broadly referring to movement not just across waters, land, and air, but also across immediate, virtual and hyper realities—and shifting societies. The title pays particular attention to the role of migration in shaping those social changes by continuous movement, a movement characterized by breaks, dislocations, absences, and silences of those who have nothing to declare. The primary criteria for selecting works hinged, not on what the works are about – migration and identity politics, for instance – but on aesthetic perception, emerging from migration, taking the cue from the discourse on migratory aesthetics (2Move: Double Movement /Migratory Aesthetics ) by Bennett, Bal and Hernandez , among others. [vi] Art is not just about content, meaning and event, but all about felt experience, affect, and formal and aesthetic resonance.
iNSANEITY, Lizelle Ortigas@blanc
In most of the works selected, particular attention was given to projects that evoke ways of sensing and feeling that are de-synchronized and fractured, irreducibly plural, discontinuous and non-homogenous. Such disjointed perceptions —which become concretely apparent in states of trance, possession, daydreams, jokes, manic and epileptic seizures— can be understood under the thematic of “picnolepsy”, a category we borrow from Paul Virilio to explain experiences that exist as a series of vacancies and absences, configured in shifting and provisional arrangements, rather than coherent unities, ordered and logical thought.[i] This project is thus interested in those picnoleptic vacancies and absences, the un-saids in human perception and the gaps in human experience, particularly of those at the fringes who fall between the cracks of the “real,” the rational and the visible in a global culture of unequal access amidst material excess, of want and poverty amidst waste and plenty.
The project’s first stopover and point of entry for engaging with and making sense of these gaps and disappearances in an uneven global context is Manila, the capital city of what is referred to as “a nation of nannies,”[ii] of exported overseas workers, whose remittances to those they leave behind supposedly keep the economy afloat. [iii]
As pilot site for Nothing to Declare, Manila is place as well as metaphor for understanding a particularly nomadic, migratory sensibility characterized by displacements, of absences, and of slippages, that are lived in very real, concrete, at times painful terms in the everyday. “Livedness” and “lived realities” for these families do not only refer to the immediate, the concrete. In life until death, the bodies of these so-called citizens of the world present concrete examples of contradictions, of absent people who are made present through money coming through the wires, a lifeblood circulating —from birth to death— through impersonal, electronic banking and financial circuits of exchange.
For example, there is now a funerary service advertised as “Cyber-Burol” (cyber-wake), where the webcam and the computer can relay images of the bereaved and the dead, a situation where grief and feelings of loss, and pain are played out virtually.
Such virtual realities become very real and pervasive, especially in political circuses, such as elections, which for the first time have become “automated” in 2010 —a development that gives rise to the possibility of failures in elections, a danger that WJT Mitchell[iv] characterized no longer of “things falling apart” —of wars and mass destruction or mass malfunctioning of machines— but of things coming alive: the creation of new, ever-vital, virulent images and life forms: of computer viruses, terrorist sleeper cells, of warlord cells, of smart bombs, and in the case of Philippine elections, of automated Garcis (short for Garcillano, the election commissioner linked to the vote rigging in the presidential elections of 2004).
Similar circus elections and migration of labor phenomena are found in the homeland of some of the invited artists, from Egypt as a sample of Middle East countries to several Latin American and African nations. Nothing to Declare takes careful note of these movements across realities: movements where copies and objects that, despite or maybe because of having nothing to declare, nonetheless have realities and lives of their own.
As site of political and cultural power, Manila is the seat of the nation-state, one that is constantly challenged by political, cultural and social forces within and without. As source of exported labor and goods, Manila exists in the margins of global politics and economy as well as in relative geographic isolation from the rest of mainland Southeast Asia’s capital cities. However, as port of entry to the rest of the Philippine Islands, Manila is also the junction towards the rest of Asia. As the first destination for Nothing to Declare, Manila becomes a meeting place where people from various points of origin can work together, listen and tell stories of loss and leavings, as well as gains and triumphs.
Nothing to Declare is thus a contribution to contemporary discussion on migration, not only of people across borders, but of forms and realities across time and space, with the dysfunctional city of Manila as initial site. But instead of the subaltern who cannot speak[v], the project focuses on those who have nothing to declare –those whose marginality is source of intervention and strength, of subterfuge and resistance, of constraint as well as change.
In brief, NOTHING TO DECLARE revolves around the following interrelated themes:
1. shifting geographies emerging from diasporas, migrations, overseas work
2. shifting identities arising from movement, mobility, displacement, exchange; implying a sense of rootedness and slippage, identification and estrangement, familiarity and alienation, entitlement and distance
3. shifting spaces, connoting not just physical relocation, but mental and spiritual dis/position, as well as dislocations, gaps and silences that take place in immediate, virtual and hyper-realities
4. shifting positions, implying an appreciation of difference and a willingness to dialogue, work together, listen and engage.
5. shifting power relations, connoting multiple flows and streams of choices, constraints, control and conditions of creation, dissemination and reception
6. shifting possibilities, connoting transformations and breaking grounds where marginality – of having nothing to declare – IS source of intervention and strength, of loss as well as triumphs
[i] Paul Virilio. The Aesthetics of Disappearance. USA: MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. And London, 2009.
[ii] Sheila Coronel , April 2, 2005. http://pcij.org/stories/a-nation-of-nannies/
[iii] Data from 2003-2009 of the Bangko Sentral showed that there has been increasing remittance flows from OFWS . In 2003, total remittance was USD7.6 billion. In 2009, total remittance reported was USD17.3 billion. Data on Oversea’s Filipinos Remittances by country, by source are available at http://www.bsp.gov.ph/Statistics/keystat/ofw.htm
ADB notes that, in the long term, remittances will not help rebalance economic growth as the bank did not find evidence that money sent home by OFWs enhances human or physical capital. See new article on http://www.tripleiconsulting.com/2010/02/01/ofw-remittances-not-sufficient-for-long-term-growth/ . The article also cites that The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) estimated that almost 10 percent of the Philippine population lives outside the country. The latest estimate puts the population at about 92 million. A copy of the study by the ADB entitled “Remittances and Household Behaviour in the Philippines” is available at http://ideas.repec.org/p/ris/adbewp/0188.html
Southeast Asian Migration and Remittances
Workers Remittance Flows in Southeast Asia, ADB, 2006. While the data may be dated, the study is quite comprehensive and includes migration trends in Southeast Asia. The study also cites that nearly 2 million largely women immigrants remit more than USD3 billion from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. A full copy of the study is available in pdf format at http://www.adb.org/Documents/Reports/workers-remittance/workers-remittance.pdf
[iv] WJT Mitchell. “the Work of Art in the Age of Biocybernetic Revolution,” What Do Pictures Want? Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2005.
[v] Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, eds. Basingstoke: Macmillan Education, 1988.
[vi] Jill Bennett, Migratory Aesthetics: Art and Politics Beyond Identity http://home.medewerker.uva.nl/m.g.bal/bestanden/Bennett%20Jill%20paper%20FINAL%20READER%20OPMAAK.pdfMieke Bal, Migratory Aesthetics: Double Movement http://www.exitmedia.net/prueba/eng/articulo.php?id=266; Miguel Hernandez-Navarro, Second=Hand Technologies: Migratory Aesthetics/Politics of Resistance, http://home.medewerker.uva.nl/m.g.bal/bestanden/Hernandez%20Second%20Hand%20Technologies%20READER%20OPMAAK.pdf
(under construction. Last updated 22 October 2011).
Flaudette May V. Datuin
Associate Professor, Department Of Art Studies, University Of The Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines;
Co-founder and editor, Ctrl+P Digital Journal of Contemporary Art;
Founding Chair, ARTHOC (House of Comfort Art Network, Inc).
Visiting Research Fellow, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2010-2013)
Visiting Professor, Research School of Humanities, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia (2008)
Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Research Fellow (2004-2005); Asian Scholarship Foundation fellow (2003-2004), which enabled her to conduct research on women artists of China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. From these field works emerged trauma, interrupted, an ongoing international art project exploring the link between trauma, art and healing.
Current research interests include:
Field work for a documentary on the ecological practices of a fishing village in Batanes, Northern Philippines, a post-API fellowship activity
Ongoing field work on the ethnography of mental illness and the link between art and community-based rehabilitation in Naga, Southern Luzon, Northern Philippines
Ongoing explorations on the “greening” of art studies and the humanities, with special focus on pedagogy and curricular program
Currently curating and organizing an independent project called Nothing to Declare, which focuses on the gaps and silences of aesthetic perceptions emerging from migrations, not just of people across geographies, but also of realities (virtual, hyper real, lived).
Five most recent and significant publications (as of June 2010):
Ctrl+P journal of contemporary art, co-founder and editor. http://www.ctrlp-artjournal.org
Alter/(n)ations in the Art of Imelda Cajipe Endaya, ed. Datuin, Flaudette May. University of the Philippines Press.
Home Body Memory: Filipina Artists in the Visual Arts, 19th Century to the Present.
2002. University of the Philippines Press.
“Uncommon Sense (on trauma, interrupted).” n. paradoxa Vol. 21 2008. London: UK. (www.trauma-interrupted.org/datuin/Writing29.pdf)
“Reclaiming the Southeast Asian Goddess: Examples from Contemporary Art by Women (Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia).”Annual Review of Gender Studies, the 4th issue, Center for Gender Studies, Kawamura Gakuen Woman’s University 2006.
“Reclaiming the Southeast Asian Goddess: Examples from Contemporary Art by Women (Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia)(東南アジアの女をり戻す：女性現代作家による試み（フィリピン、タイ
、インドネシア),” (trans. by Izumi Nakajima), Image & Gender, vol. 6, 2006, pp.105-
“’The Women Actually Wanted to Die’: Works by Women Artists in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. Completed and Published Research Work as Asian Public Intellectuals fellow. 2004/2005. Reflections on the Human Condition: Change, Conflict and Modernity. The work of the 2004/2005 Asian Public Intellectuals Fellows. The Nippon Foundation Fellowships for Public Intellectuals. 2007.
Alter/(n)ations: The Art of Imelda Cajipe Endaya to be launched January 4, 2011
Flaudette May V. Datuin’s book Alter/(n)ations: The Art of Imelda Cajipe Endaya, will be launched at 6 pm, Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at the Liongoren Gallery in Cubao, Quezon City. The book is one of the refereed publications recently published by the University of the Philippines (UP) press, which is mandated to encourage, publish, and disseminate scholarly, creative, and scientific works that represent distinct contributions to knowledge.
The book launch also opens an exhibit of the artist’s selected works clustered along interlocking themes outlined in the book: cultural identity and nation, displacement and diaspora, home, sisterhood and solidarity, women and globalization. Exhibition will run through January 18, 2011.
Datuin, as editor, gathered scholars Alice Guillermo, Cherubim Quizon, Indira Myra Endaya, Brenda V. Fajardo, Eileen Legaspi Ramirez, and Neferti Tadiar to enflesh the various ways by which the life and work of Cajipe Endaya can be read. Datuin frames these essays through four categories: “framework, patchwork, artwork and worldwork.”
Foreword is by poet and multi-awarded author Marjorie Evasco.
Datuin is a feminist art historian and critic, currently serving on the faculty of the Department of Art Studies, University of the Philippines. Recently appointed as Visiting Research Fellow of the University of New South Wales (2010-2013), she was als recipient of a Visiting Fellowship at the Australian National University, research grants from the Asian Scholarship Foundation (ASF) and Asian Public Intellectual (API) fellowships, which enabled her to conduct pioneering research on contemporary women artists of China, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan. These research works inform her curatorial projects, including trauma, interrupted, an international art project on trauma, art and healing in 2007. She is currently curating Nothing to Declare, another international art project slated for November 2011 in Manila.
She is author of Home Body Memory: Filipina Artists in the Visual Arts, 19th Century to the Present also from the UP Press.
Cajipe Endaya won the Irwin and Florence Memorial Award (highest annual award) from the American Society of Contemporary Artists (ASCA) New York City in 2008 and the ASCA Honorable Mention for Mixed Media in 2009. She received the Thirteen Artists Awards in 1991, Araw ng Maynila Award for Painting in 1998, the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts in 1999, and Ani ng Dangal from the National Commission for Culture and Arts in 2009.
Liongoren Gallery is located at 111 New York St. (near Stanford), Cubao, Quezon City. For inquiries, call (02) 9124319, or 964-3496.