Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"IT'S CRUNCH TIME GIRLS!"
We had discussions of how we view ourselves in the community and went on to discussing about the “Socialization of Filipino Women” and the role they played in ‘his’tory; From the Spanish and American colonization, through the struggles of the revolutions, and to the different occupations that the Filipina has to take in order to survive. Looking back at it, we seemed more “Badass” until we got degraded by societal views of the Americanized mind.
[Alex Felipe] Photography
We went through the basics of photography; from the use of space, angle, rule of 3rds, simplicity and balance...etc. After the lecture we got to play around with Photoshop and the necessary tools in editing digital photographs.
[Jeff Garcia] Silk Screening intro
We had to rush to the next workshop after Jeff’s, and into the Chinese Canadian National Council office to listen to Bernice’s Stories. “Bernice works with facts and memories to create narratives. She shares her process to encourage others to participate in artistic endeavours.”
[Spray Painting ideas]
We headed back to KPC right after CCNC to brainstorm what we still needed to get done in time for the gallery. At this point we also started to think of what to name our precious.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Silkscreen artist Jeff Garcia's version of a jam session? A Drawing Circle. Last Thursday, he threw us our very first CLUTCH drawing circle at his humble abode/studio. How it works is simple: we sit around a table, armed with anything from old books and scissors, to funky pens and markers, and we collage/cut/paste/draw/doodle whatever the eff we want or feel at that moment in time. Then we pass it on to the next person, who builds on what we just did until we've reached a wild, jam-making, total eclipse of the soul explosive creation (to us at least).
Joined by the wonderful illustrator and CLUTCH alumnus Krystel Pasignasigna, and another long-time friend of Jeff's, we spent a whopping six hours creating works and swapping. Janeane Garofalo, Bruce Lee and a dash of wine also helped make the night a little more interesting. Here are some photos from the night:
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I’m sure anyone who has met spoken word artist Len Cervantes will agree. Coordinator of Kapisanan’s ever-growing workshop series Poetry is Our Second Language and eight-year veteran of spoken word, Len introduced the CLUTCH girls to tanagas, balagtasans and the history of poetic expression in the Philippines this past Saturday.
Sitting beside us was a young lady by the name of Naya Valdellon, whom Len had brought along as a “special guest.” She seemed unassuming, exhibiting no pretensions but instead a gentle eagerness to be there, so I figured she was with us to learn about poetry, perhaps attempt to write a couple on the spot. As soon as she began reading out the first few lines of her poetry, we knew we were in the presence of greatness. Turns out not only does she have several poems published in magazines and books (such as "One Hundred Love Poems: Philippine Love Poems Since 1905," seen above), she has also received the Palanca Award two years in a row — a prestigious national literary award, basically the Pulitzer Prize of the Philippines.
Her words gave us chills and poem after poem, Kristina and I sat dreamy-eyed, chins resting on our fists like little children, enthralled with Naya’s natural ability to story-tell through poetry. “All kids started out as artists,” she said. “What we need to do as artists now is see that same world with wonder.” Having lived in the Philippines all her life, the former editor and content writer for a website design company decided to “go on an adventure” and head to Toronto in 2006 for the English and Creative Writing masters program at U of T. She fell in love with the city and has been here since, even amalgamating poems about her previous life in Manila with newfound Toronto stories about the mix of people and urban landscape. She also admits to learning about her own Filipino identity just as much as we were: “Growing up in the Philippines, I never questioned my identity … Writing about being Filipino in the Philippines was considered corny,” she told us.
We told her our own stories and how we could relate to her, despite our differences in backgrounds and where we all grew up. We saw ourselves through her and it was comforting. Len agreed: we need to see more of these strong female writers and chill-inducing spoken word artists in the community... and beyond. We didn’t have enough time to pummel her with more questions we had about her life in the Philippines, her writing processes and learning experiences but Len did have time to give us homework: to come up with our own “tanaga” — a sort of Filipino haiku, but with seven syllables and four verses, same rhyme at the end of each line — to be posted on the CLUTCH blog in the next couple weeks.
“You always have to be ready for inspiration,” Len said to us. My pen will be ready.
Other quick updates:
-Met with silkscreen artist Jeff Garcia last week at his studio for a brainstorming blitz for our project (and potential installation piece) and demo sesh to get an idea of the process. Uber cool guy with raging ideas, raging energy and raging hair.
-Went on a wild goose chase, running up and down each floor of an architecture school, finding scrap wood materials for our spray-painting piece. Found sweet pieces, despite cut-eye from students. Garbage turned art... adds a new dimension to the final piece.
-More hours spent coming up with a title for the February 20 exhibit. You could tell when the delirium kicks in as you read through the long list of ideas, top to bottom. We want it to punch your soul...
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
More importantly, we were able to openly discuss, to each other, our personal experiences and relationships with the main Filipino women in our lives: our mothers... and how their values and belief systems were shaped depending on the "Filipino-ness" of the culture they were brought up in. It seemed as though each of us in CLUTCH was raised quite differently, ranging along a spectrum between “the typical strict Filipina nanay” to “the liberal free-spirited Westernized mom.” It was really interesting to share and even more so interesting to relate it to historical and cultural constructions.
After a brief break, we went ahead with Part 2 of the day-long workshop with our Filipino History teacher himself: Alex Felipe a.k.a. World Photojournalist Extraordinaire (http://alexfelipe.com/). Seeing as it was a Photography Workshop, I was under the impression we were going to be handed cameras for the day and told to run around the city, trigger-happy, clicking away like a little kid with a toy gun. Turns out the workshop was a lot better (and a lot more beneficial!) than I had imagined, sans camera. Having had his work featured in publications like Toronto Star and This Magazine, Alex shared his trade secrets, his photo-philosophy and the technical rules of what makes a great photo: “A great photograph is NEVER about a person, place or event; it’s about symbols, signs and icons composed together artfully.” It makes sense—but we never think it. Nowadays, photos are taken for granted, judging by the arms-length “self-portraits” cropping up on TwittMyFaceSpaceBook every second.
When Alex talks photography, it’s tough to keep up with. He rarely takes a breath in between his words. He tells a story about each of his photo as if he is back in the same setting looking into the same lens all over again. He talks about developing a level of trust with your subject and how a combination of timing, patience and chance is key. He could enter a room and assess what angle with which sort of lighting would convey this sort of emotion from that perspective. You could tell he was born to do this. And I’m jealous.
After a presentation on composition, we were taught how to use Photoshop on our laptops to enhance photos, adjust colour and lighting, contrast, etc. It wasn’t easy and Alex’s speedy mouse-clicking skills were no match for my now powerless MacBook touchpad. But I have a feeling my newfound relationship with Photoshop is only the beginning.
Our photography critique is next week. Can’t wait to see what we each come up with…
Monday, November 16, 2009
He decided to show us around the few alleys in the city where there were a lot of very good graffiti art made by various artists including himself. He's such an animated character. He went on and explained the different groups of graffiti artists,
the disputes between these groups, the unofficial rules that go about with all real graffiti artists and many more.
I agree with what he told us about how the only works which no one ever dare touch are the ones that are very old or/and very good. People, at least most people, respect old graffiti art and the ridiculously good ones. All graffiti artworks are vulnerable to a lot of factors once they're out there on the public place. Others can vandalize on them or cover them up with another artwork. I can't help but admire the ones that managed to endure on the public walls of Toronto.
He then took us to visit his friend's studio. He called this friend, "Uber". He mentioned him earlier that day because he explained that his group of friends tribute each other by including their names on some of the artworks that they've done all over the city. The guy named Uber is apparently fixated on chickens. Should we ever come across a chicken, spray-painted on any wall in Toronto, we should know that they're all done by that one person. It's actually
pretty neat. The chicken is almost like his signature. Jabari's works have a certain distinct characteristic in them too. The caricature-ish quality, sometimes a bit gestural, and the contrast of the colours all combine into Jabari's style.
His friend's house was also interesting. He had a lot of artworks displayed on his walls. I couldn't help but ask them both a million questions because they're really in the current industry. We learned a lot from what they shared about their lifestyles as artists in the city. He recommended a few books that will definitely be useful to us, as visual artists.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
So I decided to melt off the entire left side, start off fresh, maybe make something brilliant out of it. I tried putting in a photo I took in the Philippines to replace the sketch. That didn’t work. Melt. I tried engraving new words on the wax. Didn’t look so good. Melt. I tried mixing colours, writing poetry onto tracing paper, drawing up new images to go with my lonely compass-unicorn. Even worse than before. Melt. Melt. Melt. What ended up happening was I melted off the entire collage until all that was left was a beaten-looking board and a red-waxed corner with the words “Feed your” on the right corner. I was frustrated. I had to redo a completely different collage on a smaller board and I left the place disappointed, especially considering the therapeutic high I felt the last time I worked on the first collage.
I felt like one of those obnoxious diva artists, who need their water at a certain temperature before they could perform. I was fussy. Everything from the music to the studio space to my mindset at the time was just not right. Why was I acting this way? Was I simply masking my insecurities about being creatively uninclined through petty excuses? Why was I so hard on myself about something entirely new to me? Was I experiencing “artists’ block”?
It got me thinking about what actually makes an artist an artist. I remember I was telling a friend’s girlfriend about the CLUTCH program, our upcoming exhibit and the many projects we’re working on. She asked me, “Are you an artist?” “Oh, no no,” I stuttered. I think I even chuckled a little. But what is the criteria that allows one to use the title “artist”? Is it their portfolio of work? The popularity of their exhibits? Their reputation in the artistic community? Is it self-described, or do others have to officially christen you with the title? I write and I draw and I paint and I do photography and I make music. But nay, I am no artist! And it irks me when pretentious, self-righteous hipsters call themselves artists simply so they could justify wearing their acid-wash skinny jeans. Okay, that may be a little harsh. But I think the reason why I hold the title in such high regard is that I know some of the most creative, talented and innovative people, who I consider artists—many of them being at the Kapisanan Centre. And I wouldn’t consider myself even close to being in that same category.
But I guess that’s what this program’s for—for really instilling the confidence to call ourselves artists and not being afraid to dabble with multi-disciplinary forms. CLUTCH challenges all of us in the program to think out of the box and explore our creativity and listen and learn from other artists and their work. Being surrounded by these mentors, people who live for art and don’t care about the title, are the true artists. I’m hoping in the next few months, I am able to feed off of their energy and really be much more patient with myself and each project thrown at us. And to stop being such a freaking diva.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I cringed y'all. I cringed harder than an audience member at a Sarah Silverman show. I saw the small camera movements that I thought I had cut out, I heard the choppy background audio that I did not notice during editing, I couldn't figure out why the opening bothered me a heck of a lot, basically a lot of things happened.
Let's start at the beginning:
Flerida is at home. She is attempting to export the film into a Quicktime movie that doesn't stretch the aspect ratio 100x and therefore make the whole thing look terrible.
"Holy mother, I'm supposed to meet the Clutch Peeps at 12 before the critique!"
Please note, it takes about an hour and a half for Flerida to get to the Kapisanan. She starts another Quicktime export and takes a shower hoping it's done by the time she's out.
Quicktime export over. It looks better, yay! But there must be an even better version. She decides to just leave and figure out the exporting business at the K.
Another export attempt. It is however thwarted by the lack of memory in her computer. Deletion occurs.
Ahhh deletion still occurring! Must make do with the proper-aspect-ratio version that looks the best. Kevin Centeno sets up the computer-television connection because he's awesome like that.
Watching the film and CRINGING CRINGING CRINGING. Like that picture up there.
Critique begins. Romeo Candido (Senior Producer at Much More Music), Vincent Galvez (Freelance Filmographer), and Michelle Turingan (Freelance Filmographer) sit on one side of the boardroom table and us Clutch Ladies on the other. Many good points and suggestions that we shall indeed follow up on. The main one being that we're doing the voiceover again. Also it will be much slower.
I admit, I was worried about the short film dragging on and that people would be bored while watching, but what they said makes a lot of sense. Since we have a voiceover, we have to allow the words to sink in for the audience and so we can't make it so fast. Otherwise all these words that are integral to the story will get lost in the visuals and then it won't make any sense!
Deletion finally finishes. Sigh.
End of critique.
And that's what happened on Saturday with regards to our short film.
After the critique we worked on our encaustic painting/collages. But before we did that we had to figure out how to plug all the equipment in for the encaustic painting/collages. There were five minds working for 15 minutes or so and we couldn't figure out how to plug in all the different extension cords. And then Karyl Agana walks by and figures it out in honestly like thirty seconds. Whaa-aaaatt? Go Karyl. :)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I stole the last photo from Desiree's own blog post, which you can findhere. Hopefully they'll send me more photos of the finished collages. That's right guys, I'm talking to you. You better deliver." - Leah Gold
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Enough facts — the encaustic workshop was a revelation to me. I didn’t know these art forms existed and we oooh’d and ahhh’d outloud upon every step Leah introduced us to.
Our project was to collage photos and tiny objects into to the wax/wood panel that would express ourselves. Leah told us not to be afraid of “messing up” and that the self-expression will come on its own. So we jumped right into it and mentally zonked out for more than three hours, eyebrows furrowed in fascination at what WE were coming up with.
Anyway, the workshop was a success and I was addicted to the art form. Hopefully we’ll bump into the talented Ms. Gold once again. (Plus her studio is a sweeeet dig)
Update on past CLUTCH weeks: 1. Short film “Perched” — we're still working on it. We really want to produce something we can all seriously be proud of. Romeo Candido’s workshop on video editing truly pushed us to think out of the box in terms of sound effects and musical tones to fit the sort of mood we want to convey. It’s getting there…
2. PSL’s Charity is Our Second Lanuguage event a.k.a. Nuit Brun — the CLUTCH girls were there that night to help out with the balikbayan boxes for the Typhoon Ondoy victims, but also to breathe in the energy of the spoken word artists and bask in their creative pool of poetic language. Words can’t describe the outcome of that night. Let’s just say it was a packed house and I had chills the entire night.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Using Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince as inspiration for its story-telling magic and charming interrogative style, the short film is about a young Filipina narrating short stories and moments of her childhood in rural Philippines, which ironically clashes with visuals of urban life in Toronto.
We ran around Toronto today, with our main goal to capture the relationship between our main character, Kristina, and the city. I felt like we were guerilla filmmakers at certain points. We even had a mini tiff with one of the restaurant owners below my friend’s place where we shot at, in regards to asking “permission” to film (which we had). She apologized when my friend told her it was okay, to which I jokingly said, “I know — it’s weird to see a bunch of Filipino girls at one time” — to which she got surprisingly defensive. No matter — ‘twas quite humourous to see someone freak out at the thought of being accused of racism.
Back to the actual shoot: in plain words, Kristina was a natural. Her face and demeanor were perfect for the role. She interacted with street musicians and picked out fruit from the stands and walked down Kensington Market, nonchalantly passing the hustle and noise of people around her. Combined with Flerida and Daryl Anne’s video production experience, we’re all very excited (and curious) to see how this film will turn out. We’ll keep you posted…
- Participated in making Forest City Lovers' music video,
- Saw a documentary at the National Film Board called "The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam" by Ann Marie Fleming (it certainly was a Long story),
- Listened to our guest speakers/mentors: Catherine Hernandez, Michelle Turingan, and Maylee Todd,
- And just recently attended our first Filipino History class.
With all these events, we have one major project that occupied our minds: Making our first collaborative video. We are all excited (I'm sure) to be making a significant video on our own that can relate to each of us CLUTCH girls and hopefully to the audience as well.
The topic that was given to us to write about was being a Filipina woman living in Canada. I don't know if there's a shorter way of saying that, but that's what I can remember... so =P
Each of us have our own unique talents that we are relying on to help create our masterpiece. Experiences in writing, theatre and film, and of course the experiences of being a Filipina.
[above: We had nothing scheduled on Friday so we decided to use this time to come up and finalize our story so we can start shooting our scenes the next day.]
Friday, September 25, 2009
It was really surprising to find out that before the Spanish, the Philippines were not like the North American natives. Our islands were situated in a massive trade route where goods and spices flowed through. We were ship-owners, we under-wrote large-scale ventures into China, and we had gold. Gold. Gold and spices.
We were ballin' folks.
So why is it that nobody knows this? Why is this not taught in schools, ESPECIALLY schools in the Philippines?
It really makes me angry that I didn't know about this. Angry at myself for not looking for the information myself like Alex Felipe (our teacher) did and angry at the colonial mentality that the Philippines seems to have because why is our history so friggin' forgotten?!
Argh. I need to process this some more.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Our first meeting went well. Forest City Lovers are a pretty cool bunch of musicians, but then again what musician isn't cool? Kanye West probably. Who saw the MTV Video Music Awards?! Ridiculous.
Anyway, back to the video shoot with FCL. A skateboard was used as a dolly (ingenious!), someone found their inner monkey and climbed a tree to pick out a balloon, people cart-wheeled/biked/jazz snapped across the frame, lots of cool DIY/guerrilla video making in action. All in all the video seems like it's going to turn out well and I can't wait for its release.
Afterwards we went to the NFB. I'd always known where it was but I had never actually visited the place. We saw "The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam". It really resonated with me because in the documentary, Long Tack Sam (Magician/Vaudeville performer) was essentially forgotten about by his family. I immediately thought about my own history and how I forgot it (including my language!). It's all rather unfortunate but watch out, I'm getting it back!