I know it’s a cliché to wonder at half the year being over, yet here we are in August and I am no less mystified by the passage of 2017 so far. After more than six months here in Manila, it’s finally time to move to Hong Kong in a few short weeks. I’ll be working at the Cultural Studies Department at Lingnan University, teaching courses on performance/performing art(s), gender and cultural politics, and commodity cultures. I’ll also be starting new individual and collaborative research projects around musical performance, transnational mobility, and creative/cultural labour.
It’s one of those turning points that punctuate large stretches of one’s life–along the scale of decades–and I’m not yet at the point where I can articulate my feelings about it. There probably won’t be enough time to do so.
In any case, it’s a good thing that there is music to be made, and in the company of inspiring and supportive collaborators. On Sunday, I’ll be performing with Anam Cara at a special two-hour show at the UP Vargas Museum. For this specific performance context, we wanted to explore our approach to improvisation in a new way — so we’ve invited two artists from different genres to jam with us at certain points: video artist Pauline Vicencio-Despi (she’s responsible for the gorgeous video above), and dancer Buboy Raquitico of Daloy DC (he was one of the dancers in last year’s CCP staging of Unearthing). We’re also performing a few set songs that have coalesced from previous improv jams and performances. Finally, I’ll be performing a piece I wrote five years ago, using my vocal looper to work with both sung and spoken delivery. Pauline and Buboy will be jamming with me on that one. I’ve given them the text and shared some of the insights behind it, but other than that I have no idea how they’ll respond. I’m freaking excited about it — I love what each of them does in their respective fields and am curious to see how the interaction will unfold.
The last improvisatory bit of this show is its blank-ticketed arrangement, which continues the Sipat Lawin model of enjoining audiences to reflect on the participatory and subjective nature of valuing (and evaluating) art. The logic is deep and the concept is simple: audiences will be invited to pay what they want after the show is done, respective of their honest experience/opinion of the performance, and their economic capacity/willingness to pay for art.
With this much uncertainty in the air, it’s easy to get carried away by anxiety. Thankfully I have a pretty large anchor of reassurance at hand, in the form of an audience comprised of family and kindred spirits who not only humour my foolishness (always a good thing), but also inspire the earnest pursuit of this foolishness in the first place. There is a deep, unshakable confidence in the gesture of giving, to whom one loves, what one loves.