At Art Fair 2020, Two Wall Installations Allow People to Add Their Ideas With Pencils, Markers, Crayon, Chalk, or Paint
In 1967, the American artist Sol LeWitt published "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art" in Artforum to define what was discussed among artists but not clearly articulated, thus laying down the parameters for conceptualism. At a time when artists were throwing out traditional artistic conventions in step with the moment in history steeped in political unrest, LeWitt's text displaced the value of artistic practice from the object to the process.
He wrote, "In conceptual art, the idea or the concept is the most important aspect of the work... The idea becomes a machine that makes the art." His conceptual system began with conceiving a line drawing made directly on the gallery wall for the Benefit for the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, an exhibition in New York in 1968. This first piece grew into a series of more than 1,300 wall drawings.
Guided by specific instructions from the LeWitt Estate, the wall drawings demonstrate the artist's commitment to "the democratic hand"—allowing other people to serve as drafters directly on any wall anywhere in the world, using ordinary materials such as pencils, markers, crayon, chalk, or paint. Each wall drawing can theoretically be installed anywhere and any number of times.
For this year's edition of Art Fair Philippines, the Sol LeWitt Estate has generously loaned for exhibition two wall drawings. "Wall Drawing #1217" is unique in LeWitt's series for being the only exclusively text-based wall drawing that allows translation to any language depending on the location. Installed at the art fair in four different iterations (in English, Filipino, M'ranaw, and Baybayin), they illustrate the Philippines as a polyglot culture—the proverbial melting pot.
The text itself, "These words are written on the wall," reads as if in dialogue with René Magritte's Ceci n'est pas une pipe by way of winking at Magritte's painting of a pipe with a straightforward tautological assertion. "Wall Drawing #869A" is comprised of a wavy, horizontal line drawn with a black marker at the top of an eight-foot square on the wall, repeatedly copied down to the bottom in a sequence of red, yellow, and blue markers.
Conscripted to the cause of these collaborative wall drawings is a team of drafters comprising Filipino artists and writers such as Poklong Anading, Ril Arguelles, Ringo Bunoan, Lena Cobangbang, Marika Constantino, Beng and Jose "Butch" Dalisay, Elnora Ebillo, Carina Evangelista, Lisa Gokongwei, Nilo Ilarde, Lisa Ito, Boni Juan, Moira Lang, Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez, Cocoy Lumbao, Ged Merino, Paul Mondok, Bernie Pacquing, Marian Pastor-Roces, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Nicolas Pichay, Gerardo Tan, Alvin Zafra, along with the founders of Art Fair Philippines Dindin Araneta, Trickie Lopa, and Lisa Periquet.
The installation of these wall drawings would be a meaningful point of reference for the conceptual idiom that is a robust strand in contemporary art practice in the Philippines.
AUIT Vocal Chamber Ensemble of the University of the Philippines College of Music, under the leadership of Mary Katherine Trangco-Cabral, will perform the Allemande of Caroline Shaw's "Partita for Eight Voices," the piece for which Shaw became the youngest Pulitzer Prize awardee for music. The only a capella work to ever win the prize takes inspiration from LeWitt's wall drawings. An ode to conceptual abstraction, the composition feels muscular with passages of lyricism. Shaw also granted rights for Paul Morales to choreograph a dance set to the Allemande and to be performed by Michael Barry Que for a one-time-only performance at the opening of the art fair.
Altogether a participatory celebration of conceptualism, color, visual and linguistic play, texture, surface, rhythm, sound, and movement, the presence of artists, writers, singers, and a dancer evidence both process and form of cultural production as well as the generative nature at the core of LeWitt's legacy.