Vargas Museum Education Guide

c_rafts
Mark Salvatus
Exhibit runs until 17 August 2011 GF West Wing Gallery

About the exhibit c_rafts examines personal stories, collective memories and survival in times of calamity. Salvatus, who used to live in España in the Sampaloc area, departs from his

USING THE EDUCATION GUIDE The guide is designed for discussions and activities on the exhibit for classes in Humanities, Art Studies, or Fine Arts. Suggested topics for this exhibition include: Installation Art, Communitybased art, Dialogical Art, process, bricolage and personal stories and collective memory. The Education Guide includes write-ups (bordered by gray boxes), guide questions, pre-, during, and post-visit activities and suggested readings. Important terms are underlined for emphasis and possible elaborate discussion in class. It is encouraged that course tutors/teachers have a pre-visit to the exhibition before the class’s actual visit. This education guide may be reproduced. VISITOR INFORMATION For pre-visits, coordinate with the Museum to schedule a group visit. Please inform the Museum at least 24 hours in advance. Group visits may be guided by a museum staff, by the teacher (the galleries may be used as classroom upon advance notification), or unguided (students may view the exhibition at their own pace). For information about the museum hours and entrance fees, check the official website of the museum at http://vargasmuseum.upd.edu.ph.

encounters and experiences of Manila floods. Focusing on the ravage of typhoon Ondoy that hit Metro Manila in 2009, it probes the ties between the public and the private, survival and threat, game and play. Rafts made out of everyday objects make the viewer re-think perceptions on fear and doubt in relation to the instinct of surviving a disaster. Through these objects, multiple layers of relations and functions are crafted and constructed, further exploring the idea of consumerism, security, urbanism and everyday politics.

About the artist Mark Salvatus (b. 1980) graduated Cum Laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Fine Arts major in advertising. He works across disciplines and various media that deal with community, urbanism, accidental encounters and everyday cultures. Winner of the 2010 Ateneo Art Awards, he is the recipient of the residency grants from Common Room Networks Foundation, La Trobe University Visual Arts Center and the New York Art Project (Art Omi). His recent exhibitions include “Stories of Dreams and Realities” at Rossi & Rossi (London), “Vernacular Cultures & Contemporary Art in Australia, India and the Philippines” at La Trobe University Museum of Art, LUMA (Melbourne), “Boat and Bridge_Net” at Space Beam (Incheon) and “Open House” at the 3rd Singapore Biennale.

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Vargas Museum Education Guide

“I work across different media from paintings, drawings, installations, photography, video, street/urban art, designs, illustrations, blogging to interactive and participatory projects…to question memory, nostalgia, existence and space, making a new perspective between the viewer and the work…establishing an intimate and charged dialogue with the audience – will they be familiarized by it or be alienated.” Mark Salvatus, 2011 In its early formation, Installation art was defined as a medium and technique. However in recent years, Installation Art has become a practice that embodies the relationship between the artist and the audience. As the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov puts it, Installation Art is a genre that engages the viewer as artist infuses a sense of familiarity, drawing from everyday experiences and recognizable memories. The viewer should not merely be asked with “what do I see”, but with “what do I feel and how would I react”. The audience is encouraged to have his/her own meaning, interpretation and understanding of the artwork. Dialogical art (see Kester, 2004) focuses on conversations and exchanges not only on the finished work itself but also on the process. It becomes an integral part of creating an artwork that facilitates discourse and critique. The dialogue as a medium can be in a form of speaking, writing, physical participation or any interactive partaking by the artist, collaborators and viewers. One offshoot of Dialogical Art is Community art, sometimes referred to as “community-based art” or “community-engaged art”. It is the process of creating works of art in which the artist collaborates with the members of a community or a certain group set in their locality.

Pre-visit activities: The following activities and guide questions can be used to introduce to the students Installation Art and Dialogical Art and establish a background on the theme of the exhibit itself. 1. The students may share in class what they think art is and should be. a. What is art for you? What are the usual materials being used in “creating” an artwork? b. Can everyday objects be used and become art/artwork? If yes, how would you use them as an artist? If no, why do you say so? c. What would you want to convey in your artwork? How would you convey your ideas to the viewers? 2. Make the students aware about collaborations. a. Given the chance to create and produce art, (visual arts, music, dance or any project) who would you want to work with? What collaboration/s are you interested in? Why did you choose that specific people / group /community?

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Vargas Museum Education Guide

3. Revisit accounts of several typhoons in the Philippines by asking the students their experiences of Milenyo and Ondoy. a. Where were you during the time of the typhoon? b. Were you greatly affected? What were your first actions with your family and/or friends during the time of disaster? What were the things you did to surpass the calamity? c. How did you cope with the experience after? What were the lessons you learned from that tragedy?

Actual visit activities: The following activities and guide questions can be used to facilitate discussions while viewing the exhibit. 1. List down the items that were used for the rafts. Use another sheet of paper for this if necessary. 2. Initiate “looking” and “feeling” at the installation of different rafts in the exhibit. a. Describe the installations. What do you see? b. Do you also see the objects used for the rafts in your own home? What are the original uses of these items? What happens now that they are part of the exhibit? c. What do you feel? Does it remind you of the typhoons and flooding in the Philippines? What are the past experiences that cross your mind upon seeing the installations? d. Do you think other people can also relate with the installations? Why? e. Or do you see them as objects in a secluded space alienated from how they are supposed to function? 3. Bricolage is the practice of making use available materials for creating artworks and installations. It also refers to the process of using consumer products and commodities and altering their use and meaning. Review the list of materials from no. 1. a. How were the materials selected? b. Where do you think the artist got them? c. Do you think they are readily available? d. As former items of commodity, how do these objects now question consumerism? Ponder people’s urge to buy and consume unnecessary goods and its consequences. How do these goods upon disposal add to the problem of flooding especially in Metro Manila areas? e. What are the new meanings of these objects now that they are part of the rafts? 4. Reflect on the process of creating the rafts and how dialogue is achieved. a. How did the artist build the rafts? b. Do the rafts need to actually float or not? Which is more important, the idea that these rafts represent or the ability to physically imitate the objects that these represent? Pursue your point. c. Why do you think the exhibit was titled c_rafts? How did the wordplay on “crafts” and “rafts” emphasize the idea of crafts as a process and creation? What does “_” symbolize? Does it visually evoke the floating rafts?
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Vargas Museum Education Guide

d. Reflect on the tragic images of Ondoy in 2009. How do people act in order to survive amid the disaster that hit them? How does the raft communicate these experiences and memories of those that were affected by the typhoon?

Post-visit activities: The following activities can be used to emphasize and facilitate recall of the lessons learned from the exhibit. 1. The students can write a do-it-yourself raft by developing a guide in making one. Information on disaster preparedness, important hotlines and tips can also be incorporated in the said DIY. 2. Divide the class in three to four groups (depending on the size of the class). The students can discuss in their own groups stories or memories that are close to their heart. Pick any theme that is common to each member of the group. Using available materials that the students can find in classroom and/or school, each group can create its own Installation Art based on collective memories. 3. The class can have a collaborative project in the community. Ask them to interact with a certain group in their community and produce an installation that initiates a dialogue on a specific issue or problem that the community faces. 4. The students can also write a paper or essay analyzing the exhibit further. They can focus on what they felt while viewing the exhibit and how the works affected them. Issues of consumerism, urbanism and survival can also be topics for further discussion in the paper.

Sources and suggested readings: Books De Oliveria, Nicolas et al. 2003. Installation Art in the New Millennium. London: Thomas and Hudson. Doherty, Claire ed. 2004. Contemporary Art: From Studio to Situation. London: Black Do Publishing. Kester, Grant H. 2004. Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art. California: University of California Press.

Internet Official blog of Mark Salvatus http://marksalvatus.blogspot.com/

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