13 SEpTEMBER - 22 OctoBER 2022
The reproductions of photographs and news clippings in the exhibition afford a conversation on Jorge B. Vargas’s life and investments in land and agriculture. The materials foreground Vargas’s admiration for land, which can be traced to his family’s class history in Bago, Negros Occidental up to his political positions in the government, such as being the director of the Bureau of Lands (1922-1928) and as undersecratary of the Agriculture and National Resources (1928-1935).
Vargas’s resourcefulness and the development arising from his governed projects on land and agriculture in colonial times are correlated with the experiences and agricultural strategies of urban farmers in Marikina and Rizal in the present time. These practices, which bring out certain tensions surrounding food insecurity, unemployment, environmental degradation, and disaster risk, are reflected upon by artist Nathalie Dagmang in the exhibition titled “Fertile land.” It stems from Dagmang’s fieldwork encounters with urban farmers in the areas of Barangays Tumana, Marikina and Banaba, San Mateo.
The practical calibrations on urban gardening among the residents of Tumana and San Mateo remain part of a long and ongoing history of conflict for land development. Land reforms have started since the initiatives for agrarian policy during the Commonwealth Period under President Quezon, whom Vargas served as his Executive Secretary. Such endeavors may have paved for the passing of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988. The law includes provisions stating that funds recovered by the Presidential Commission for Good Government (PCGG) must be appropriated to underwrite the reform program. The exhibition “The PCGG Artworks Collection: Objects of Study” opens up the connections and complicates the relations between art and agriculture. These artworks, sequestered by the PCGG from a trove of pieces identified as belonging to the family and associates of former President Ferdinand Marcos, are objects rendered as subjects for deliberation in a museum setting that rests on the habits of collection.
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