Books & Art

Tarzeer Pictures' Art Fair Philippines Space Puts Its Own Spin on Still Life Photography

The collective talks about its upcoming curated space, art mediums, and more.
IMAGE TARZEER PICTURES
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More and more are turning to photo and video as art mediums. As a celebration of both art forms, Art Fair Philippines is amping up its photography and film sections this year. The sections will focus on photography and video as contemporary art while looking back at past works.

Art Fair Philippines 2020 has called on film composer Erwin Romulo, film critic Philbert Dy, and film archivist and historian Teddy Co to curate film. Poklong Anading, art/n23, bio|trans|forms, Denise Weldon and Tom Epperson, Luzviminda, Silverlens Photo, Strange Fruit, and Tarzeer Pictures will have spaces of their own.

Though Tarzeer Pictures is one of the newer curators, the collective has certainly come to be known for celebrating "Filipino craftsmanship, culture, and creative spirit" by way of photo, video and exhibition productions. We spoke with the creative production agency, headed by Enzo Razon, Dinesh Mohnani, and Gio Panlilio, about its upcoming Art Fair Philippines space, photography and video as mediums, and challenges it has faced.

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Dinesh Mohnani, Gio Panlilio, and Enzo Razon

Photo by SOLAIRE.

ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: Tarzeer Pictures focuses on photos and videos. How did the three of you become interested in these mediums?

TARZEER PICTURES: We’re all curious people. We’re excited by a multitude of different and unrelated things. Photography and video enable us to focus and explore these interests, while giving us the opportunity to learn about different industries through the projects we work on. Both are also highly collaborative mediums, with different expertise involved to successfully produce a project. The combination of realizing a personal vision while having to collaborate with multiple people to execute those ideas is a very fulfilling and attractive process for all of us.

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ESQ: A lot of Tarzeer Pictures' work deals with Filipino culture and themes related to it. Aside from your connection to the country, why does that particularly appeal to you as a fertile ground for exploration?

TP: From a creative point of view, we think that responding to the situations and the contexts immediately around us is inspiring and forces us to look at subjects in a responsible way.

Dianne Rosario, A Selection from I came like water, and like wind I go, 2020
Photo by TARZEER PICTURES.
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ESQ: How long did it take to decide on what to showcase for Art Fair? Can you explain the process to us?

TP: As new curators (we only started our gallery in 2018), we wanted to approach our exhibition-making practice in a way that allowed us to survey a variety of work, while expanding our own understanding of the medium. For Art Fair Philippines this year, we wanted to focus on the still life. We asked two artists who we’ve shown before, Cenon at Mav and Dianne Rosario, to each create a new series for the fair. To us, the Still Life series provides the perfect balance between constraint and freedom to allow the artists to play within their own styles.

ESQ: What can visitors expect?

TP: Two new photography series that show different approaches to still life. Mga kahina-hinalang kaganapan sa Santor by Cenon at Mav Cenon at Mav, a partnership between photographer Cenon Norial III and stylist Mav Bernardo, create meticulous worlds born out of their bizarre vision. 

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And I came like water, and like wind I go by Dianne Rosario. Dianne Rosario subverts the conventions of traditional documentary photography to create still lifes found in nature. The works reflect her exploration into the tensions and dynamics of her family history.

Cenon at Mav, "Bumaba sa lupa, mula sa langit" from Mga kahina-hinalang kaganapan sa Santor, 2020

Photo by TARZEER PICTURES.
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ESQ: What challenges have you faced in the process of conveying the messages of your work?

TP: The medium of photography is so loaded with convention and expectation because we are all so saturated in it. For us, the challenge is to get people to think of it not only as a tool to document and capture, but also as an instrument of expression and a vehicle for ideas. This is also one of the reasons why we thought of showing still lifes—they’re images of objects and of scenes that represent ideas other than what they literally are.

ESQ: What do you hope visitors take away from your space?

TP: We hope people respond to the universal qualities of the images, as well as appreciate the unique, totally individual perspectives both bodies of works are coming from. The extremes in their work might stir a response and provoke questions about photography as a medium and the perspectives of the two artists.

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ESQ: What are your plans after Art Fair Philippines? Any upcoming exhibitions or projects to keep on our radar?

TP: BINGO, a new exhibition we’re planning for March; RECORD RECORD II, a follow-up to our PRIDE show last year.

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Paolo Chua
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