Usapang Pananaw tackles art in the past and for the future

Words by Kyle Ramiel Dalangin

Pananaw XV conducts the first Usapang Pananaw – an online art forum that welcomes various artists from the Los Baños art community and beyond. Reflecting on the current theme “Pagtatapat sa Hinaharap,” guest speakers from various artistic fields shared their insights for the folio’s fifteenth issue.

Art holds a vital role in the community, and the pandemic either restrained or gave freedom to it. Today, when the past is used to reconstruct the truth, artists have their own ways of archiving the history and taking part in building it. From literature to textile, Usapang Pananaw’s guest speakers, Pananaw XV staff, and guests took part in discussing their art as a tool in historicizing the present and facing the future. 

Art of the past as the mirror of the future

While we can never predict the future, we can always write, paint, or draw about it. Art reflects the present, but it can certainly warn you about the future. Prof. Dennis Aguinaldo and Prof. Adam David both use art as guides for what comes next in our society.

Prof. Dennis Aguinaldo, faculty member at the Department of Humanities (DHum) of UP Los Baños, analyzed two art works from the previous issue of Pananaw. He highlighted the timelessness, or the time-defying nature of art, using these works as an example which maintain the past and inspires the future. 

Prof. Adam David, comic book artist and high school teacher for comics, intersected societal issues with environmental ones. He discussed the possible future of the Philippines if the people of the world continue to exploit the environment. He reflected this future on his life-long comic entitled “Terrorium” which depicts a dystopian future. With this, he wanted to show that art and history can be the blueprint to take action for the future.

Art in changing the future

“Change the future.” We always hear these kinds of sayings from generations above us. Raffy Ugaddan and JC Castro both think we are all capable of shaping the future through concrete action. How can we try to mobilize then, when we are confined in our own homes? For them, it is through their art.

Raffy Ugaddan, virtual artist, thought of the lockdown as an opportunity to look through and discover more of himself. As a program coordinator of the Linangan Art Residency, he handles the Amuyong mentorship program which is an alternative learning platform for young artists by artists themselves.The 8-week art residency consists of workshops that helps in developing skills during the pandemic. Its purpose is to build an alternative culture wherein artists help each other, and assert that artistic validations should not only come from institutions. 

Multi-instrumentalist JC Castro, or Lik Ha, believes that the future of music is in improvisation. The beauty of improvisation is in its flaws and the effort to correct it in the future. In his talk, he emphasized the ability of everyone to change the future in light of the past. We can always make mistakes and we can also make amends.

Art as the archive of history 

Every brushstroke, every melody, every word, every line— all of these are representations of reality, if one looks closely. Cultural norms and societal issues are reflected in many art forms, may it be a literary work or a painting. Prof. Roma Estrada’s and Ms. Judith Castro’s perspective towards Pananaw XV’s theme focuses on how art historicizes the present to build a future full of awareness and truth.

Prof. Estrada, faculty member of the Department of Humanities (DHum) at UP Los Baños, views necessity as the muse of artists. She advocates #ArtistsFightBack wherein artists respond against the anti-people policies of the Duterte regime through a variety of artistry. These creative works archive both the Filipino art history and Philippine history itself. 

Judith Basco of The Art of Yarn at SAKA (Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo) shared textile works that amplifies advocacies. Activism through art is one way to tell the future the truth and act on it. One of the ways artistic work coincides with community work are in the livelihood workshops that The Art of Yarn conducts in marginalized areas, further blurring the line between art and activism.

Pagtatapat sa Hinaharap

Usapang Pananaw” put the spotlight on art and its efforts to depict the past, analyze the present, and reshape the future, but also a step to emulate the community of inquiry pre-pandemic.

During the first forum hosted by Pananaw, Graphics Editor Jael Apostol states the importance of the program does not only lie in discussing the folio, but also a platform to reconnect with, reintroduce and inspire more artists from Southern Tagalog. “Sa isang banda, napagtagumpayan din nitong initiative na makilala ang iba’t iba pang art practitioners mula sa loob at labas ng Southern Tagalog.” Apostol says. 

Furthemore, current Pananaw XV Editor-in-Chief Daphne Sandoval asserts, “sa Usapang Pananaw tinatalakay namin nang mas malalim ang tema. Itinatag ito para di lang tayo nakasalalay sa Call for Submissions Write-Up, di lang ito ang nag-iisang teksto para ipaliwanag ang hamon na binibigay namin. Minsan napaka-isolating din ng proseso ng paglikha, lalo na ngayong pandemya.  Kaya napakahalaga ng spaces for discourse tulad ng Usapang Pananaw.” 

Pananaw XV is accepting submissions until December 19, 2021. Read the full details here. [P]

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