Friday, September 4, 2009

Using Art to Think About the Elections

April 2010 - the month before the always interesting, confusing and exciting elections - will be an interesting, confusing and exciting month for CANVAS as well. On this month, we will launch two major projects that we hope will help the public to think critically about their roles as voters, and as Filipinos.

Below are brief descriptions of what we're thinking about.


Just as we did earlier this year, we will invite selected contemporary artists, graphic designers, photographers, and writers, to produce individual works of art which will be transformed and displayed as outdoor art banners that the public can enjoy and appreciate in a non-intimidating and relaxed environment.

For 2010, we have decided on the theme of Looking for Juan: Everyday Filipino Heroes. The idea is to send a collective message that the elections should not be about finding heroes because heroes are already all around us. Indeed, ordinary Filipinos - parents, teachers, policemen, farmers, fisherfolk, OFWs and many more - perform quiet acts of heroism everyday.

What should the elections be about, then? This is another question for which there can be many answers, and one that we hope the banners will also explore and express.

Tentatively, we hope to again display all the banners all around the University of the Philippines’ Academic Oval for the entire month of April 2010. At the end of the exhibition, the banners will be taken down and again recycled into tote bags as unique works of functional art. These bags will be sold, and proceeds will be donated to selected charities and activities, including support for CANVAS’ continuing efforts to promote greater awareness and appreciation for Philippine art, culture and the environment.

DEKALOGO (Noon Hanggang Ngayon)

Mabini's Decalogue, originally written in Spanish and translated in English below was sort of a "ten commandments" for Filipinos at the time. Even now, it seems so appropriate, and in many ways is simply timeless.


First. You shall love God and your honor above all things: God as the fountain of all truth, of all justice and of all activity; and your honor, the only power which will oblige you to be faithful, just and industrious.

Second. You shall worship God in the form which your conscience may deem most righteous and worthy: for in your conscience, which condemns your evil deeds and praises your good ones, speaks your God.

Third. You shall cultivate the special gifts which God has granted you, working and studying according to your ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice, in order to attain your own perfection, by means where you shall contribute to the progress of humanity; thus; you shall fulfill the mission to which God has appointed you in this life and by so doing, you shall be honored, and being honored, thou shall glorify your God.

Fourth. You shall love your country after God and your honor and more than yourself: for she is the only Paradise which God has given you in this life, the only patrimony of your race, the only inheritance of your ancestors and the only hope of your posterity; because of her, you have life, love and interests, happiness, honor and God.

Fifth. You shall strive for the happiness of your country before your own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice and of labor: for if she be happy, you, together with your family, shall likewise be happy.

Sixth. You shall strive for the independence of your country: for only you can have any real interest in her advancement and exaltation, because her independence constitutes your own liberty; her advancement, your perfection; and her exaltation, your own glory and immortality.

Seventh. You shall not recognize in your country the authority of any person who has not been elected by you and your countrymen; for authority emanates from God, and as God speaks in the conscience of every person, the person designated and proclaimed by the conscience of a whole people is the only one who can use true authority.

Eighth. You shall strive for a Republic and never for a monarchy in your country: for the latter exalts one or several families and founds a dynasty; the former makes a people noble and worthy through reason, great through liberty, and prosperous and brilliant through labor.

Ninth. You shall love your neighbor as yourself: for God has imposed upon him, as well as upon you, the obligation to help you and not to do unto you what he would not have you do unto him; but if your neighbor, failing in this sacred duty, attempt against your life, your liberty and your interests, then you shall destroy and annihilate him for the supreme law of self-preservation prevails.

Tenth. You shall consider your countryman more than your neighbor; you shall see him your friend, your brother or at least your comrade, with whom you are bound by one fate, by the same joys and sorrows and by common aspirations and interests.
Therefore, as long as national frontiers subsist, raised and maintained by the selfishness of race and of family, with your countryman alone shall you unite in a perfect solidarity of purpose and interest, in order to have force, not only to resist the common enemy but also to attain all the aims of human life.

We have now tapped 10 Salingpusa artists to interpret each "commandment" with one artwork each. CANVAS will then design posters for each - using the text of the commandment and the artwork, and capped by a plea to "Vote Wisely" at the bottom.

These posters will be made available as high-resolution files, downloadable for free on our website, so that people can have easy access to them and hopefully print, post them or even hand them out as flyers, for even more people to see and consider.

We're also hoping to get corporate sponsors who might be willing to take out full page ads using the posters in the weeks coming up to the elections. (Needless to say, any help ANYONE can give in this regard will be greatly appreciated.)

We sincerely hope that these two initiatives will serve as collective artistic contributions that will help fulfill the national dream for meaningful, relevant and truly transformative elections.

We're very excited! Abangan!!!

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