Blacktown Arts Center will present this year a vibrant multi-arts program showcasing the contemporary art and cultural practices ofthe Philippines. The program 2017 will start with the exhibition, the Bayanihan Philippine Art Project opening with the Art Gallery of NSW on 24th June 2017, follow-up by Balik Bayan opening on 7th September 2017, ending on 2nd November. Both exhibitions are promoting the Filipino art.
About the Bayanihan Philippine Art Project, there will be a serie of exhibitions, performances, creative writing and community programs in multiple venues across Sydney. It is one of the most significant explorations of Filipino art ever presented in Australia.
Regarding Balik Bayan, Blacktown Art Center part of the collaboration, is a multi-art form and community celebration project. It will transform the center into a gathering space of intersecting contemporary art forms : video, installation, painting, performance, film, community activations and events, featuring local and international artists with Filipino ancestry.
In Blacktown, 34,000 people have Filipino ancestry, roughly 9% of the community.
Literally translated from the Tagalog language, “balik” means return and “bayan” means country. Balik Bayan focuses on one central question : What does a “return to country” mean for one of the world’s largest diaspora? Well, historically, Philippine traditional practices have been defined by the interplay between oratorical performance, music, dance, poetry craft and visual arts. Art serves a central role within communities, giving life to religious rituals. They also are implicit in the diverse creative expressions that have defined the Filipino people.
Framed by this multiplicity of forms, Balik Bayan radiates out of a central work by the artist Alwin Reamillo with the project Bayanihan, which is the Filipino tradition of physically moving bamboo house from one location to another. The house will undergo further re-construction through public participation at Peacock Gallery in Auburn, and then cross the border between Cumberlandand Blacktown Local Government Areas to launch the Balik Bayan project.
Several artists will perform and share their passion during the event : Anino Shadowplay Collective, Caroline Garcia, Leeroy New, Robert Nery, Melanie Palomares, Marnie Palomares, Alwin Reamillo, Marikit Santiago, Justin Shoulder, Sipat Lawin, Sydney Sonata Singers, Bhenji Ra, Melissa Ramos and Ala Paredes.
For example, Leeroy New proposes to transform the Arts Centre car park in a large-scale installation, that will incorporate a public bar and community space into his work.
Manila-based performance company Sipat Lawin will work with the Sinta Group to create a Tiyangge, flea market, that celebrates the Filipino community in Blacktown.
Balik Bayan will also include new commissions by local artists. Like Bhenji Ra and Justin Shoulder, this will be present a mixture of live performance and video-based on their shared Filipino heritage to re-imagine mythologies as celebratory legends. The artists use their bodies to forge connections between queer, migrant, spiritual and intercultural experiences.
Ala Paredes’s work on paper reflect her pregnancy, symbolising her body as home, she’s working mainly in watercolour. Her work explores themes of transplantation, using familiar elements from religious iconography and her traditional Filipino up-bringing. For Balik Bayan, Paredes is also working in collaboration with Leeroy New on the community-activated art installation for Blacktown Arts Centre car park.
Melissa Ramos works with time-based media, investigating the intrinsic nature of time and movement, she explores
stories that confound reality with fiction. Ramo’s film work uses abstract narrative to explore heritage and diaspora
Marikit Santiago’s paintings and sculptures examine the military legacy, literature, mythology, superstition, religion, politics, socio-economic status and popular culture that remain present within the Filipino communities in the Philippines and the diaspora. She mixes layers and slices of Manila and Sydney.
Caroline Garcia explores the hybrid body and cultural fluidity, working in video and installation as well as live performance. She’s concerned with forgotten choreographies, mimesis, alternative ways of viewing image of the past that eschew accepted myths, and the cultural make-up of the Filipina
Marnie and Melanie Palomares propose a new dance film for Balik Bayan delves into folklore and how it manifests as choreographic language. The are informed by an ancestry that harks back to the Spanish colonial era- full blooded Spaniards who identify as Filipino.
To celebrate the important role cinemas has played in shaping contemporary Filipino art and culture, filmmaker Robert Nery will curate a series of experimental and feature length popular films for Balik Bayan called A Portrait of the Filipinos as Filmmaker.
The Bayanihan Philippine Art Project and Balik Bayan will conclude at Blacktown Arts Centre on 2nd November 2017, timed during All Souls Day, a significant date in the Filipino cultural calendar.
Balik Bayan seeks to unpack the complex layers of diasporic culture by creating a space in Blacktown, where the Filipino community can make a metaphoric “return to country”. Thus, they are being giving the opportunity to light up the Filipino arts, diversity, culture, story, emotions, and community story to the Australians. Indeed, Australia is a country built on a mingle of various communities, which confirms the fact that people have to be very open minded about what surround them, and curious to discover other’s people culture…