The Japan Foundation Asia Center and the Vargas Museum are pleased to announce "Almost There," an exhibition at the University of the Philippines’ Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, co-curated by Patrick D. Flores (Vargas Museum) and Kyongfa Che (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo). This group exhibition is presented as part of the Japan Foundation Asia Center’s "Condition Report," a collaborative art project with emerging young curators from Japan and Southeast Asia.
"Almost There" began with a proposition, a fairly open one, but sufficiently pointed so that it could facet an angle from which to consider certain urgent concerns that the current world is facing as well as the complex history that had shaped it. The other impulse was to create opportunities for curatorial knowledge to be marked and conveyed across the generations. This aspect was sensitive to the process by which curation was demonstrated as a practice and in which emerging curators in the Philippines and Southeast Asia participated in carrying out the curatorial task along with peers who have had more exposure and experience in the field.
The exhibition attempts to create resonance among a wide range of research, as well as of expressions of contemporary art from diverse parts of the world, including Africa and Latin America, areas with which the Philippine public has very scant acquaintance. In doing so, it attempts to open up a new scope of imagination and reflection to animate existing modes of knowledge, histories and subjectivities. That is, to find the potentiality of the political in this ever-shifting ambiguity.
"Almost There" responds to and tries to explore a phrase from a particular study of spiritual life and spectacle in a Philippine province. Fenella Cannell proposes the notion of “intimacy and power” to define the process of shaping affinity and sympathy with others. Such a process always involves the effort to imitate but not to repeat, to belong but not to assimilate, and to share the experience with mutual investments. At the same time, it is driven by interest, by the desire to be recognized, the aspiration to be visible. The exhibition explores this tension between distance and kinship. Thus, the title speaks of a gap, an “intense proximity” that does not quite touch the address, the place to be, or the destination as yet.
Included in the exhibition are works/projects by selected artists in various media including painting, sculpture, film/video, installation and performance, as well as small-scale curatorial projects by three Southeast Asian curators (Ayos Purwoaji Surip Mawardi, Lisa Ito-Tapang, and Lyno Vuth) that respond to a specific work by a participating artist or to a context drawn from the concept of the exhibition. Several works/projects include the element of direct, in-depth interaction with the public that spills out of the gallery space; a number of activities will be held in the form of walks, performances, lectures, and discussions throughout the exhibition period, many of which will take place at the architectural platform built by Nousaku Fuminori with Rosario Encarnacion-Tan at the Vargas Lawn.