By Mye Mulingtapang
The journey of two Filipino artists Joe Datuin and Migz Salazar through the mecca of affluent art lovers, art pilgrims, critics, and curators in Venice is no mean feat as they highlight the crucial role of art to challenge the way the society is run.
Artists: JOE DATUIN & ALLANREY “MIGZ” SALAZAR
Title:"KABABALAGHAN" (Phenomenon) Size: 200cm x 200c Medium: Mixed Media
Year: 2017 collaboration piece
“The sphere and the ball in this mixed-media piece is made of highly reflective steel with local copper minted amulets has a three dimensional effect that lets the viewers experience interactive art”, shares artirst Joe Datuin.
Filipino arts shine for art’s sake
Every aspect of art, life, and the society to religious, cultural, and political realities involve the viewers in the Philippines participation in the 57th Venice Art Biennale themed “Viva Arte Viva”-Long Live Art. It is under the leadership of French curator Christine Macel. The exhibition aims to celebrate art itself, which Macel tells us, “bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human, at a time when humanism is jeopardized." Five artists made it to the main exhibitions including Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo for the Philippine Pavilion Spectre of Comparison in the Arsenale. Three other artists were handpicked by Macel showcasing their masterpieces in Giardini, avant-garde artist David Medalla, Katherine Nuñez, and Issay Rodriguez.
While the core exhibtions are held in the Arsenale and Giardini, two other Filipino artists Joe Datuin and Migz Salazar also create significant impressions in the sea of international contemporary artists in their own exhibition under ItsLiquidGroup entitled Anima Mundi. The festival consists of three main events: RITUALS, CONSCIOUSNESS and VISIONS and the special event ELEMENTS. They laboriously brought their ground breaking collaborations giving an elaborate explanation about how the art scene in the Philippines becomes ritualistic and religious. With no heightened sense of anticipation as no one has spread the word-of-mouth about their participation Datuin and Salazar continue to empower and usher other artists to the international stage amid the conflicts and skirmishes of the commercialized and money powered art industry.
Salazar and Datuin who are elated to be invited by It’s Liquid Group director and Anima Mundi curator Luca Curci is optimistic that their compelling pieces create impact on their viewers and the global art scene.
“Art must be political. Politics corrupts, demeans, destroys, devalues the essence and beauty of art. If you mix art with politics, you are creating a deception art which eventually poisons the artist’s creativity and kills the life of that arts being created. Pure art should be free from politics to maintain its sacredness and beauty," Datuin said.
“If you cut a big tree in the middle of a vast forest, it will drop down into the ground creating a loud impact of noise, but only you can hear that noise. Now through my art, I am cutting a huge tree in the center of the city and once it dropped down, creating an impact on the ground, I hope everybody will hear the sound," Salazar added.
Artist: JOE DATUIN
Title: "ANTING-ANTING" ( Charm) Size: 122cm x 122cm
Medium: Mixed Media Year: 2017
Amulets and the Filipino folk credo
Their installations offer an intense personal feeling and emotional self expression. A cultural presentation steeped in religion, power and nationalism which responds to Anima Mundi’s aim to discover multiple forms of hidden connections between the soul and the body, the mankind and the natural elements, the natural spaces and the cities. The anting-anting is believed to be linked to the Filipinos belief of having protective power from death and illnesses. A defining influence on the lives of rural Filipinos.
“Tayo rooted na sa culture natin ang mga ritualistic practices, so dun kami nag-concentrate, yung mga anting anting, bumili kami ng mga medallion at amulet, si Mr. Datuin sa Quiapo para yan ang gamitin namin. Natuwa yung organization kasi there’s something new, very related and highly significant dun sa theme," Salazar said.
Datuin and Salazar continue to make waves in Venice as they showcase their masterpieces which highlights the Philippine’s ritualistic practice, historical culture and religion.
A display of folklore
Elements and rituals both magical and spiritual resound across the Ca Zanardi exhibition space with the compelling masterpieces of Manila-based International Olympic Filipino Visual Artist and Sculptor Datuin and Paris-based International Filipino Contemporary Visual Migz Salazar who piqued the interest of curators and artists alike. The festival focuses on the concept of ANIMA MUNDI, that according to several historical cultures, religions, and philosophical systems, is an intrinsic connection between all living entities on the planet, which relates to the world in a similar way as the human soul is connected to the human body. Bringing their creative pursuits in Venice, setting from the ground up and adding the mystic details of skulls, candles, charms and amulets created an atmosphere like no other, an inevitable force.
“Generic and "commercial-grade" anting-anting in different shapes and sizes with cabalistic inscriptions and icon engravings fill the Phenomen and Anting-Anting pieces which I personally bought in Quiapo," said Datuin.
Artist: Migz Salazar
Title: The guys beyond the next door
Size: 70cm x 210cm Year: 2014
Art incisions and empowering ritual
Datuin emphasized the importance of the country to have an active role not only in the Venice Biennale but in the global contemporary art scene through other biennales and art events. In this manner, unique realities can be communicated through works interpreted by other Filipino artists. It will stimulate aspirations, even ambitions, in the art scene which is becoming political and selective.
“Hindi lang sa pag-participate eh, so we aim for a higher level when it comes to biennale event. So, we don’t just participate, no, we have to make history out of this exhibition.”
“Sabi ko nga, the dream must go on. We have a dream to fill in, to achieve, so, we are here now para lumaban. Sabi ko nga sa mga social posts, we will bring home the bacon, the tastiest bacon of all time.”
Art in general is undoubtedly an effective tool, a weapon in advancing fundamental values and principled advocacies. Being under the European art radar screen awed viewers are never lacking. But like the empowerment and renewal of anting rituals the masterpieces of these two artists demonstrate segments of Philippine art and culture in the most powerful way.
A skull stuck on a wooden stool, surrounded by Joe Datuin’s signature circle adorned with amulets.
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