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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

entry arrow12:33 AM | Is the Philippine Visual Art Scene in the Closet?

"Why is lesbian art practice a floating terrain in Philippine visual arts?" asked Eva Aurora D. Callueng in the Philippine Online Chronicles in 2010 [here]. "I decided to post that question as a title to deliberately and finally ask the question that most of us in the art community have not considered asking. For art scholars the very limited material for writing is the simplest and initial cause of not following this track. For art dealers, to venture in or establish a lesbian art market would assume a very specific niche market that may or not be successfully tapped; and that second option might compromise the figures. For art enthusiasts, to acquire lesbian art may force them to position themselves in this highly politicized identity culture; very few patrons want to be tagged ‘the lesbian art collector’. For lesbian artists, lesbian art practice might not be the name of the game. For lesbian advocates, the works may not be easy to locate, much more to be useful in community-based organizing. For non-artist, non-advocate lesbians, to seek such art may seem irrelevant when jobs are as hard to nail down."

She comes down to one conclusion: "In a nutshell, there is no practice because there is no support. There is also no support because there is no sustainable practice. Nobody wants to be boxed in frail box of lesbian identity." Which is sad.

This makes me wonder: Is the Philippine visual art scene in the closet?

I do know of some gay artists personally. (Paul Pfeiffer and Kristoffer Ardeña immediately comes to mind). And some I believe to be lesbians but have not exactly come out -- but the ones I know for sure are Irma Lacorte and Maita Beltran. I don't really know the answer to my question since I am not acquainted well with this world.

Irma I know because she happens to be part of the faculty of the Fine Arts Department of Silliman University, where I also teach. She identifies herself a lesbian, and has tackled issues on gender and discrimination, which has inspired her works in various exhibitions, including Lesbianarama 2k1, Batu-batuhin ang Langit, Tapakan Sinong Magagalit?, Walang Kokontra, among others.

She gave an interview to ArtinSite last year: "In 2003, I did a wedding performance with my partner and another lesbian artist, Maita Beltran, officiated the ritual while dressed like a nun. If we did the complete ceremony 'down to the last tearful petal' sabi nga ni Patrick Flores, then who says it’s not valid and why? I think this was the last work I did that dealt with lesbian issues. I have since moved on to other subjects, contents or concepts. Writing this forces me to look back and try to visually remember, hopefully, all that I have done as a visual artist."

So, is the Philippine visual art scene in the closet?


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