Monte Vista is pleased to announce Minimum Yields Maximum, a group exhibition curated by LA-based artist Gina Osterloh, featuring work by artists from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Los Angeles. Along with the exhibition, Monte Vista will host a book release event for Sarita See’s (Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, University of Michigan) new book The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance. All of the author proceeds will go to the environmental justice organization FACES (Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity).
MINIMUM YIELDS MAXIMUM
The artists in Minimum Yields Maximum work through a conceptual lens that considers everyday materials, and often engages greater social inquiries—a type of art practice that is both wide-ranging and inclusive. Many of the artists from the Philippines have studied and/or collaborated with artist and teacher Roberto Chabet. Perhaps this exhibition is a reminder that the Philippines has never hailed a singular geographical identity. It is also an appeal to shift art history, to consider a conceptual and political art model that includes the Pacific Rim. Most importantly, as an artist I have felt a strong resonance between the selected works from Manila and those from the United States. The works in this exhibition refuse to be easily identified or placed geographically. Instead, they build upon structures of loss, humor, rupture, trauma, and obliteration.
In the 1970’s, during the Marcos Regime in the Philippines, a strong conceptual art movement began in Manila. Led almost singlehandedly by Roberto Chabet, this movement took a strong stand against representational landscape painting, Social Realist murals adhering to strict aesthetics, and Modernist soft-brushstroke paintings popular in post-WWII Philippines—in short, a move to reject an essentialist identity and a simplistic art historical model of Philippine art. From the 1970’s to the present, artists scattered throughout the world have become actively involved in a dialogue with Chabet through travel, arts grants to Manila, and especially through the artist community that he has mentored.
In the beginning, Chabet’s work was affiliated with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (the CCP) as founding museum director of the CCP. A large Modernist building created by Imelda Marcos, the CCP stands out as a formidable floating cube looming over Roxas Boulevard along Manila Bay. After his departure from the CCP in 1971 due to internal politics, he began teaching at the University of the Philippines, and in 1974 founded a conceptual art group called Shop 6—the first alternative artist-run space in Manila. Subsequent alternative venues such as Agnes Arelano’s Pinaglaban Gallery in the 80’s, and Big Sky Mind and Surrounded by Water in the 90’s and today, all credit Chabet as their inspiration. As an artist himself and mentor to artists since the 70’s, Roberto Chabet has defiantly pushed forward a type of “inclusive conceptualism”1—which has influenced hundreds of art students at the University of the Philippines where he taught until recently, as well as other artists who have met Chabet and experienced his generosity in person.
In the Philippines in particular and Asia as a whole, artists from Manila are well known through their participation in biennials throughout Asia, recognition awarded through the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ateneo University, the surge of commercial galleries representing their works throughout Asia, and the insistence of independent art spaces such as Green Papaya Art Projects in promoting an international dialogue supported by institutions such as the Asia-Europe Foundation and Arts Network Asia. Other cross-national arts ties in the Philippines include the French Embassy, Alliance Française, and the Goethe-Institut.
Due to the lack of consistent institutional support for the arts between the Philippines and the United States—especially when viewed in comparison to relations between France, Australia, or Germany and the Philippines—independent, artist-run spaces such as Monte Vista are of the utmost importance and urgency to make exhibitions such as Minimum Yields Maximum a possibility.
—Gina Osterloh, February 2010
1Ringo Bunoan, text. Ringo Bunoan has been a constant wealth of historical background for conceptual art practices in Manila. As with many of the artists in this exhibition, we shared many late night conversations during my Fulbright grant in Manila 2007-2008. She recently exhibited here in Los Angeles at REDCAT for the exhibition Everyday Miracles (Extended).