Its 28-year history has bolstered the Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (VIVA ExCon) as the longest-running and the largest gathering of artists in the Philippines. VIVA ExCon is considered as the biggest family reunion of artists and all roads will lead to Roxas City in Capiz for the 15th edition which will start on November 8, 2018.
The VIVA ExConis held every two years and rotated among island groups in the Visayas from Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Dumaguete, Bacolod, and Iloilo. In 2016, the VIVA ExConOrganization-Iloilo and the Iloilo Visual Arts Collective assembled the exhibition and conference and it was attended by more than 350 artists, art collectors, art experts, curators, critiques, reviewers, students, and advocates from different places in the Philippines and with guests from abroad.
It was on the last day of the four-day conference that a bidding for the hosting of the next VIVA ExCon was held and it was awarded to the Capizeno delegates and so the lively event will now be held at the Seafood Capital of the Philippines. While the conference is schedule is from November 9 to 11, 2018, the program and exhibitions of the event is stretched up to January 31, 2018.
The 15th edition adopted a creative theme: “Don’t even bring water” or “Indi magdala sang tubig” in common Hiligaynon conversation. Yet delegates need not worry about getting thirsty or becoming dehydrated (beer and wine will overflow) because the curatorial theme was picked up from a line of a sentimental and nostalgic Visayan folk ballad Dandansoy.
The theme underscores the heart’s desire and aspiration of every Filipino to returnto one’s roots especially among the artists and the diaspora who were mostly forced to leave their beloved communities as a result of scarce resources and limited opportunities.
In VIVA ExCon Capiz 2018, “each work is a consolatory testament to this economy of means as each artist searches for spaces and semblances of home that require no geographical anchoring,” described by its curatorial note.
The rich history and development of this regional biennale can be traced back to the Black Artists in Asia (BAA) which was formed in 1986 by renowned Bacolod-based artists Dennis Ascalon, Norberto Roldan, Charlie Co, and Nunelucio Alvarado. This is the group of artists who initiated the VIVA ExCon gathering in 1990.
Close to three decades today, the VIVA ExCon has endured and it has carried an enriched purpose from its noble beginnings of providing a venue for knowledge exchange, sharing of art practice and methods, discussion of new innovations and trends, mutual encouragement and support, and as a venue for shared events.
The conference has become a sought-after learning event with lectures from art experts and academics; visual art practice and evolutions of art forms; discussion of artists’ experiences, challenges, and island-specific contexts; new art spaces; market trends and demands; plain exchange of ideas; and endless toasts of drinks as expression of camaraderie and networking.
The three-day event will be held at the Gerry Roxas Training and Convention Center. The topics will include the following: surveying the various art landscapes in the Visayan region; exploring nuanced histories and relevancies of art festivals in the Philippines;assessing successes, strategies and mistakes of cultural platforms in Southeast Asia; and, discerning concrete prospectives for VIVA EXCON.
The two-pronged program invites for a collective remembering and re-grounding in the hope of finding a path towards a common future for Filipino artists.
Materials for this article was taken from https://vxcapiz2018.info and https://www.facebook.com/vxcapiz2018/videos/581420055648273/