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ISSUE 13 : Project Glocal: The Residency
Interview with Dayang Yraola, the Curator of Project Glocal Transi(en)t
專訪Project Glocal亞洲城市串流策展人:達鴦‧雅洛拉
February 7th, 2014Type: Residency
Author: Rikey Tenn , Dayang Yraola
Note: Project Glocal 2014 will be a series of short-term residency. A number of artists from the Project Glocal artists (old and new) will be sent to a city for 10 days to 1 month. They are tasked to: 1. get to know the artists in that city; 2. find those whose practice suits theirs; 3. create an artwork with them. Preference is on the ephemeral non-sellable art, as this would create the causal feeling of connectedness and then longing. By this it is hypothesized that the artists who would collaborate will continue to seek each other as partners in their creative endeavors, hence strengthening ties. It will happen in Taipei co-hosted by the Digital Art Foundation focused on technology+performative art in March; in Kuala Lumpur co-hosted by Digital Art Media Interactive focused on heritage+community, happening in August; and in Manila co-hosted by 98B focused on technology+heritage+people, which is happening in November. Participating artists are from HongKong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Where are you come from and what language(s) do you use to speak there?

Dayang Yraola: I come from Quezon(奎松), one of the metropolitan city in Philippine. I was born and grew up and went to schools in the University of Philippines, because my house was in the campus. It’s more like suburban area, though it’s at the center of the city. I speak English and Tagalog, which I use for non-official communication. English is the official language I used to communicate in schools, or sometimes at home. Because there are experiences and expressions we can’t find correspondent word in English, I also use Tagalog with Philippine artists from time to time. 90% of Philippines are bilingual anyway. Sometimes they speak Visaya(米沙鄢語, or Cebuano) which is another Philippine language in the South, and sometimes Ilokano(伊洛卡諾語) in the North. We have 182 languages in Philippines (註1) –I speak 3 of them except English.


Have you ever been to other Southeast Asian cities (of Project Glocal)?(註2)

DY: If you have been to my city, Quezon City, you could recognize that it’s different but similar to lots of Southeast Asia cities, like Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, even Hong Kong… they have similarities, few similarities but undeniable. Back to your question, yes, I have been to lots of them, you have read my report, “Eat more rice”, including Yangon, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, (Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Taipei,) and now I added Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta in the list.


Have you ever worked with curators or artists from other Southeast Asian cities? How was it going like?

DY: Yes, I’ve been working with lots of them in the past 2 years. Communicating, in terms of language, is in English definitely. I picked up one or two words from their languages, Mandarin, Malay, or Japanese, but that was not sufficient. However, what was interesting about working together with other Southeast Asian nations is that you realized language didn’t matter; it is all about how you communicate. It is how you try to explain what you want to say. For example, in many cities I’ve worked in, especially, Bangkok, Bangkok artists ain’t really good English speakers. They understand English but respond in Thai, though you ask them questions in English. Somehow you have to find a way to understand each other, so there is body language, and constant communication always helps. For example, you understand a person that you’ve known, say, for one year better than a person you just met. So that is the key. If you’re working with people who are not from your same circle, you are supposed to talk to them more, it doesn’t matter you are talking about work or art, or any funny things, whatever. It is important you communicate constantly, because it makes a connection, then communication (the understanding) will be easier. So far it works.


Do you enjoy working under the “regional” (by regional I mean Southeast Asia) measure? Why?

DY: Yes! I enjoy it definitely so that I don’t find any reason to go to America or Europe at this time. When I did my internship of museum studies in New Jersey, I actually assisted the curator in building a show of Philippine-American artist, and we had forum as well as other events. But I found it something lacking. I didn’t feel that my idea belongs there. But when I work in Southeast Asia, I find what I need and what I am looking for are the same things my artists are looking for, or would want to experience. So I feel it’s here. Yes, I’ve been offered to work with European and American artists, but I’ve never accepted. Because I feel that we don’t belong to the same agenda.


Do you think the “turn” of contemporary art to the Southeast Asia is kind of tendency or intention?

DY: Well, it’s tempting to say that the contemporary art is consolidated in Southeast Asia, but I can only guess. Yes, there is a chance… How do I say? Huh, Maybe I feel that these places, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and South Asia, are important venues. Even Central Asia is getting in the cause… It’s not really finding one center. I feel that the Western has been the center in this scene and dispersed in so many other centers. We have multiple centers rather than, say, 10 or 15 years ago. And this has something to do with Biennials, international fora, cheap airfares, which have been increasing all these years, you know what I mean? Because the world out all of sudden becomes smaller and easier to access.


I think what you want to do now with Project Glocal is to build up a way of networking rather than to focus on a centralized platform.

DY: Exactly. When I started Project Glocal in 2011, my contention is not really to produce one center, but to make the artists realize that there are nodes which they can connect to other people. It’s like the Lego, every point of the pieces has the hole and the node where they can attach one another and build something else. And the building, the putting together has a lot to do with trust, has a lot to do with congenially being friends. It’s not the professional thinking, oh, because she/he is a good or popular artist. It’s not like that. You and I are creative people, therefore we are working together.


What is the most important thing in Project Glocal?

DY: I think the most important thing in Project Glocal is “bridging”, or popularly called “networking”. Of course, artists can do their own networking, but in the way I see in Project Glocal, because it doesn’t need to have any structure, it just has a name and the need. So, the point of connection between one artist and another can be all different. I am a believer of that if you let people to be whomever artists, curators, or art managers among the rest, contacting each other is more natural and organic, and then the relationship will last. I think it’s the most important part, because they are not for a bienniale, for a structured residency. You just give them time, space and resources to be together. I think it’s what is important here, because if it is the institution directly gives artist whatever resources, there is always a structure, most of the time — perhaps to answer your question quite directly — Project Glocal is important because it give you an open road, so you can put the road anywhere you want (it to be). It’s organic, it’s natural.


Considering the fact you mentioned that it’s not a fixed structure though, it also might lead to the conclusion like why do you need Project Glocal, or why is this project instead of others?

DY: Let me put it in this way, there have been residencies opened for the Philippine artists for long time, there’re also residencies in France, Japan, etc, but it’s the same people. Say, there are small groups now, so I am looking for artist combinations. Like Mannet Villariba who will be sent to Taipei, it’s not usually that he goes with artists for media (art). He usually goes with older ones, because he is about forties. For example, Irma Lacorte whom I brought to Singapore, if not with Project Glocal, she and Tang Ling-Nach would not have met each other. Because they come form different groups, they have been to different courses, they use different media. So what I try to achieve here is to let them see it’s a possibility that this person and that person can mingle together. In the case of Ling-Nah and Irma in Singapore, the project actually exhibited in 8Q was the product of their collaboration. It was very difficult, I’m telling you. I kept coming back and forth to negotiation… But in the end of the days, they were able to accomplish something; they were able to make something. So it actually would happen and it happened. Perhaps what I’m trying to do here is showing them what is obvious. We all know that it exists, but because it exists, we don’t pay attention to it. That’s what I’m trying to show them here.

Then you met Fairuz Sulaiman, who is very productive. But he never thought of really going across the border, or looking for artists to collaborate with him. He has collaborated with artists who are in Malaysia. Then I brought him here in Manila (for the Media/Art Kitchen), he presented himself as an artist from Malaysia. But I told him, “when we go to Taipei, you will be working with an artist in/from Taipei.” So it is the “double exposures”. The term that Irma Lacorte proposed to me is “going out off the comfort zone”. that is what she thinks about when we are doing in Project Glocal. I told them you know there are other places outside the comfort zone, and I dragged them out off there. She thinks that’s what I’m doing, and I think she is correct. So whatever format Project Glocal takes in the future, the intrinsic elements will stay there. See.


But the comfort zone for the artists might not be the comfort zone for the ideas. So I think in such kind of cooperation, the artists have to fully trust the curator, or the organizer?

DY: Yes. The issue you are raising now has been raised before. And I’ve thought about them a lot. Like what if Dayang is not here? Because I have become the middleman between them, so, is it possible that they will get to know other people but not be able to produce works with them? I have introduced these possibilities. But they don’t have to really… what is good is they are able to get to know them, at least they are aware of that there is another possible comfort zone. If they continue talking to each other, like what I said earlier, then the communication becomes easier. It is possible that one will not (only) learn the language of the other, but the expressions, the feelings, the interpretations come in. Then eventually it happens. But if the artists really feel uncomfortable, even if I’m there to guide them outside the zone, I still can’t do anything more. Then she/he is not the candidate for this kind of networking because not all artists are for networking. Some artists are very independent. Not all are candidates for this type of things. For example, Urich is a very good artist, but unless he knows and trusts the person very well, he is not ready to collaborate with others. Mark Salvatus, on the other hand, a Filipino artist, is the opposite. He is open to everyone. It doesn’t make one better than the other. It’s just to say that for Project Glocal it is relevant.


I wonder whether this consideration is also associated with your background. Which makes you tend to take care of artists?

DY: I think so. My degree is in art studies, which include art history, art management, and inter-disciplinary art in Philippines. I focused in art management. As an art manager, you can manage, organize, putting things in order like music, theater, visual art, and heritage research. That is my background in undergraduate. And I did my Master’s in Museology so visual art isn’t really my thing. But since my mother is an anthropologist (she is an anthropologist studied in Ethnomusicology), we grew up in a place called Center for Ethnomusicology, which is my office now. For her, Music and other forms of arts, just like weaving, chanting, painting… are parts of our daily life. At the same time, my father came from a family of musicians. Also, being an artist is not a label. Everyone has art in his body. Given that background, it’s easy for me to move from one form of art to another. It’s not an issue whether I am in visual art, theater or music. I work with creative minds. I see myself as a creative manager rather than an artist.


I understand how anthropologist perceives art differently depending my observation on visual art. But that doesn’t mean you have to use anthropological theory as your curatorial essay.

DY: I am more on that side because I don’t seek masters. No, not necessary. For me, what necessary with my curatorial is that people understand, whether the theory I’m talking about or not. It is important to let people understand. I don’t have the agenda to have people think I’m intelligent. I don’t want to be popular, I want to make sure I’m doing this because when I’m getting older I have contributed something to the world.


Let’s talk about the residency of the cooperation in Taipei. What is your expectation?

DY: The artists I send to Taipei are Mannet, Fairuz Sulaiman, and Duto Hardono. These are the same guys I met during the “Media/Art Kitchen: Manila” supported by Japan Foundation, which was initiated since last year. I just want the conversation to be continued, however, since you’re not part of the project, I think it should be interesting to venture that part, to bring them there, and get them to know Taiwanese artists, particularly those who are in the same situations as they are, meaning metro cities, not so much who are in the provinces. I’m more interested in how they relate their works to the issues of a city, the city which has been opened to different types of people.


Will this also become kind of exception of Project Glocal 2012~2014?

DY: Yes, and no. We are doing the same thing in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. This time, like what you’ve seen last year, everything was similar; we had exhibitions, artist’s talks, it’s the same, it’s about living and being in the same city. For Project Glocal next year, which is called “Transient”, there are different foci. For Taipei it’s performative [arts] (including live sound and performance art), for Kuala Lumpur it’s community art, for Jakarta it’s street or public art, and media. But it’s always media art and arts with technology.

Maybe this is why I also intend to introduce the performative dimension – I see it’s a broader way for audience to stimulate the possibility of versatile perceptions – which is tangible but not just optical as visual art.

DY: It covers even the forms of artists’ works I send to Taipei. It goes with my very definition of art and technology, not fine arts definitely. It requires your creativity, your experience, leveling into something palatable, something can be digested even by people who don’t have knowledge of fine arts.