National Arts Month: Fringe Manila’s Shared Space for Established and Emerging Artists
Rainbow whirlwinds | A light dance from the duo Legato, of The Flow Collective’s. Photo by Gellin Ivy De Leon
From haute couture to fire dancing, Fringe Manila adds a kick to National Art Month as a melting pot where, true to the event’s name, featured works reimagine existing forms of art: Merging performing, visual, and auditory arts.
Fringe brings works by homegrown and overseas Filipinos, and foreigners who’ve spent significant amounts of time interacting with Philippine culture.
Held across Metro Manila and featuring 100+ pieces, Fringe’s unifying theme is being “uncurated.” Board member and festival director Andrei Pamintuan expounds that the event brings together known and relatively unknown artists, providing the means to level the playing field.
“It’s not about hierarchy but perspectives. And what’s great is that [Fringe] creates that intersection,” Pamintuan shares. Fringe Manila forms part of a larger series of annual exhibits following the worldwide Fringe festival model.
The evening kicked off with free flowing Brew Kettle and Tiger beer and unpretentious pica-pica on the house. Featured were an indigenous-inspired drum-and-dance line by the Adinkra Lumads, spoken word on art’s triumph from Toronto-based Patrick de Belen, fire-light dancing by The Flow Collective, and teases from Burlesque PH. Guests moved to nearby Fringe Club where Marko Villaluz and team turned the first floor into its own exhibit. The spectacle culminated in a rooftop party with grooves from German DJ BRUDER.
Interpretations of identity
In Kalendaryo, Fil-Canadians Jodinand Aguillon and Christine Mangosing partner with Toronto troupe HATAW to recreate 19nth century portraits. A collaboration in photography and set design, the series challenges stereotypes of Filipino women and femininity.
On the floor above stands Tropical Gothic displaying the latest from Caroline Mangosing’s boutique clothing shop Vinta. Ethnic fashion resurges as barong Tagalogs and ternos make contemporary comebacks.
Easygoing and less costume-like, the line features baro blouses with adjustable sleeves and barongs paired with jeans. Each article is deadstock hand-remade by Canada-based Mangosing’s inspired team of local seamstresses.
Around the gallery sits a collection of art deco chairs – not simply on display as the write-up invites us to sit. These refurbished wicker lounge chairs were rescued from secondhand stores by Manila-based Tesa Celdran.
Christine Mangosing pins the inspiration behind all these to a “renaissance to make a conscious effort to connect with Filipino identity.” Aguillon and Pamintuan agree that despite differing perspectives, hierarchies are absent between homegrown and overseas Filipinos as divergences are its “own version of Filipino”.
Globalization enables the import of festival models like Fringe. Such events emphasize the growing local demand for art’s creation and consumption. Pamintuan shares that many establishments “are building galleries and theatres because they know Filipinos love art”.
As Fringe Manila enters its third year as part of National Art Month, Aguillon quips that we’re “one year closer to Fringe Manila 100.” Active in the North American Fringe circuit, he also expresses surprise at Fringe Manila being curated: In this case, high quality works. To this Pamintuan says, “these people who are young and emerging, these are the people who’ll be big one day.”
Fringe Manila continues until February 26. For the calendar of events across its venues as well as for ticket information, visit www.fringemanila.com or www.ticketworld.com.ph