Article

Social Realism: The Turns of a Term in the Philippines

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Abstract

Looking at the legacy of 1970s social realist painting in the Philippines, Patrick D. Flores reflects on the intersection of postcolonial discourse, historical imagination and political art practice.

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... Today, the art market in the Philippines is stronger than ever, local galleries participating in major art fairs throughout Asia (from Dubai to Singapore to Hong Kong), local auction houses emerging and prospering, and the country itself 16 Here is not the place for a fuller analysis of the history of art in the Philippines. For more, however, see Guillermo (1987Guillermo ( , 2001 and Flores (2009Flores ( , 2013. ...
... A militant urge to engage and affect local circumstances, to participate and advocate, is hence an established course of artistic action within AQ11 the region. Yet as the theorist and curator Patrick Flores has suggested, the friction between these roles, between the roles of an artist and an activist, between prioritizing ethics or aesthetics, has always been something quite palpable within the art community: '[i]nevitably' as Flores (2013) says in reference to the Kaisahan group, 'the issue of ideological instrumentalisation became increasingly salient, as artists sought to achieve a relative autonomy from political strategy in spite of their ideological sympathies -a tension difficult to overcome' (Flores 2013). How does one balance the needs of the Movement ac with the basic requirement of free expression so key to an artist's identity? ...
... A militant urge to engage and affect local circumstances, to participate and advocate, is hence an established course of artistic action within AQ11 the region. Yet as the theorist and curator Patrick Flores has suggested, the friction between these roles, between the roles of an artist and an activist, between prioritizing ethics or aesthetics, has always been something quite palpable within the art community: '[i]nevitably' as Flores (2013) says in reference to the Kaisahan group, 'the issue of ideological instrumentalisation became increasingly salient, as artists sought to achieve a relative autonomy from political strategy in spite of their ideological sympathies -a tension difficult to overcome' (Flores 2013). How does one balance the needs of the Movement ac with the basic requirement of free expression so key to an artist's identity? ...
Article
This article explores social practice art in the Philippines. Focusing on the work of Manila-based practitioner Clara Balaguer from the Office of Culture and Design (OCD), the article examines less the work and more the barriers to practice. Examining the two key obstacles, that of the market and the Movement, the article aims to underscore the still uneven topography of the global art milieu. While exploring the possibilities and problematics of social practice in the paper – the key tension between ethics and aesthetics, something highlighted by our eponymous hip-hoptivists – what in fact remains central is the complexity of locality and the inherent impediments to social practice in the Philippines. Following the collaborative and dialogical foundations of social practice itself, the paper includes Balaguer’s comments, thoughts and responses as marginalia¹1 Footnotes by Schacter are identified with numbers in superscript. Marginalia by Balaguer, with letters in subscript.View all notesaa From my understanding, it is rare that the subject of an anthropological investigation be allowed the opportunity to assist in their representation. To grant co-authorship and find ways to work together, at whatever level, in the generation of a critical portrait seems a crucial practice to explore.View all notes.
... One other prominent example of its partiality is seen in its relationship to artists working in the mode of Social Realist art. 48 Coming into fruition in the Philippines between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s, this genre was spearheaded by a dozen artists known as Kaisahan ('Solidarity'), a loose group that came into formation during the height of martial law ...
... To cite a case, her work on social realism steadily morphed into seminal volumes on political art in the Philippines through Social Realism in the Philippines (1987) and her dissertation, Protest/Revolutionary Art in the Philippines 1970Philippines -1990Philippines (2001. 12 Her hand in weaving the discourse of social realism in the Philippines, as opposed to socialist realism elsewhere, is unmistakable. The 1981 essay "How Can We Generate the Social Realist Aesthetic Proper to this Country?" ...
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