Report: Curatorial Intensive in Manila


Manila is an erratic milieu. Indoor air-conditioning is always on full blast; but as soon as you step out it is hot and humid. As our Curatorial Intensive colleagues from elsewhere soon learned, it may take two hours to get to a supposedly-30-minutes-away destination because of traffic. For the homegrown participants living in a city adjacent to Manila, it can take up to four hours just to get to the Metropolitan Museum, which hosted us for the entire week. Indeed Manila is an ecology of delay, and as such, especially erratic milieu in which to consider ideas of contemporariness. A reformulation of an idea by Yates McKee suffuses Manila and its habitué: “we are incontemporaneous with our living present.”

A presentation by Patrick Flores, which started off the intense week of seminars, resonated throughout the Intensive: the deployment of the notions of delay and lagging behind as tools for slowing down, parsing, persistence, as an interval that inaugurates opportunity and potential, and never lethargy. This erratic milieu is the soil in which local diskarte—a know-how and cunning, cannot help but flourish. This is what I imagined when Flores discussed the idea of the geopoetic: how do we foster an environment in such a milieu that helps us persist in creating in such a milieu?



Rather than linger on Manila’s errancy, I chose to appreciate the unevenness of the poetic sited in specific geographies, specificities that manifested in the heterogeneity of the group’s concerns and affinities. To me, and perhaps to other participants in the Intensive in Manila, the experience gave the space and time necessary for slowing down. The lectures gave us the space and time needed to think for ourselves and with our peers. Talking with peers allowed me the latitude to think through my position in this erratic city, a city I have learned to love. Admiration is all I had listening to my colleagues Patricia Cariño and Sydney Stoudmire speak of their projects with anabling eloquence. The time I spent talking to Asli Seven and Jessica Berlanga Taylor was full of interrogations and realizations that I will value as I engage with projects and ideas in the future.

Perhaps, the week’s intensity coupled with the surrounding errancy produced a vitality made ever more productive by the sheer heterogeneity of our group, our dislocations and collocations. It is a vitality that may only be drawn from such an intensity, be manifested from such a milieu, like a presence that is incontemporaneous with itself.


About The author

Carlos Quijon, Jr.

Carlos Quijon, Jr. writes art criticism and works as a freelance curatorial coordinator. Most recently, he was curatorial coordinator for the Manila iteration of the exhibition Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs (2016)—a traveling exhibition presented by Para Site (HK), Kadist Foundation (San Francisco/Paris), and the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Manila), and curated by Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero. He is a graduate student in the University of the Philippines in Diliman taking up Art Criticism and Theory. He was a fellow in Japan Foundation’s Curatorial Development Workshop (Manila, 2015), in Para Site’s Workshops for Emerging Art Professionals (HK, 2015) and was a fellow for Hybrid Text in the 13th Ateneo National Writers Workshop (Manila, 2015). He was also a scholar/student participant in LUMA Foundation and Bard College-Center for Curatorial Studies’ symposium “How Institutions Think?” (Arles, 2016). He writes essays and poetry, and his works have been published in High Chair, DiscLab, Cabinet, The Literary Apprentice, the Kritika Kultura Anthology of New Writing in English, and in the Kritika Kultura Special Literary Section for the Contemporary Philippine Essay. He is also founding editor of transit, an online intermedia journal that engages with ideas of the new. His chapbook DECOMPOSITION was published in 2012. He has been recently shortlisted in the Ateneo Art Gallery’s Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism (2016).

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