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Mindanao Art Fair 2023

Mindanao art in glitch

The Glitch as 2023 Mindanao Art’s theme is a call for reflection. It is a natural course, though, that after doing it for five years, we start questioning our relevance. What are we here for? What is Mindanao art for? Is it for mere appreciation and sustainability as a livelihood? Are we content with just improving the lives of artists from the mindset of the hungry artist to that of prosperity? Are we content with how the market dictates who becomes prosperous?


Ar Ar Nwebe

We were raised believing.
That art is in our blood.
Repeatedly praised, consistently awarded.
The provinciano goes to the city.
With advisers and coaches beaming.
To compete, to win, then go home.
To adorn the stage for every ceremony,
Earning more adulations and awards.
Posters and murals adorned with hands and the sun,
Giving recognitions to the ones who can render the best.
All hands, all suns, and a lot of human figures.
Selected by those who rendered the same before.
From Talaingod to Panabo, from Iligan to Nunungan,
Bukidnon, Butuan, Agusan, Zamboanga, Davao, and all.
Ricefields, rivers, waterfalls, tribes.
And don’t forget the fruits, eagles, vintas, and balangays.
But some inner proddings tell us not just look
They’re whispering… See… See… See…
Short circuiting thoughts set in old ways.
There is a glitch… and it’s confusing.


Ar Ar Nwebe

From posters and wall murals, it’s time to move up
Oils and acrylics replace house paints.
Epoxy and cement were once paper and glue.
But the figures remain imprinted in the brain,
Hands, the sun, ricefields, waterfalls, and the tribes,
Orchids, fruits, eagles, vintas, and balangays.
Years hence comes the saturation,
comes the realization.
Better rendition doesn’t an artist make.
As a taped banana confounds as it’s cheered,
Like a finger up the nose, concepts straddle the ridiculous.
This inner prodding drawing us to stare at the banana
Asking, begging: Is this the you you want to be?
The banana can’t even stare back nor defend itself…
There is a glitch… and it’s confounding.

Part 3 | What Is art?

Ar Ar Nwebe

When a taped banana is cheered and given a price,
It is the world declaring: This is art.
The artist stuck holding a thorny durian
Can’t even find a tape strong enough to stick it to a wall.
The ubiquitous vintas down-est south are to the money-making angst and agonies in the Metro, like banana peels
unaffected, untouched by thorns.
Who am I? What am I? Where am I coming from?
There’s a glitch…and it’s depressing.


Stella Estremera

This is art, the art industry is saying, enticing, jeering:
This is art and we pay for this.
The ones raised believing that art is in his blood,
Once repeatedly praised is no more.
Turned jaded like the pair of hands hogging the walls
of the barangay schools from where he’s from.
By whose authority is art defined?
Artists have all said no rules, and yet, here we are conforming:
The sword of relevance, existence, and survival swinging, threatening.
There is a glitch… and it is humiliating.


Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus

Trudging on in a seemingly never-ending staircase to success,
the artist turned jaded fans attention by sneering at the ones below
And jeering those proclaiming there must be more.
Beaming in successes from a long-ago past,
The student who was, peaking and beaming then turns bitter .
While the introspective, the competitive, steadily climbing and climbing
Up the caterpillar pillar*, gets stepped on, shoved off, and toppled down,
Screaming, whispering to anyone listening: There’s nothing up there! Nothing.
There is a glitch… it’s discouraging.


Ar Ar Nwebe

The few who dared look at the eyes of the fallen
The few who felt the emptiness of winning over another,
Remember the glories of long ago, when every poster made
Was welcomed with cheers and every mural rendered was the pride of all.
Now there are only unanswered questions,
While witnessing the unspoken disillusions
Of the defeated, the broken, and the unvalued.
Paintings of happy faces with the sun and the hands are no more;
Sadness, agony, and anger becomes the norm.
Angst finding company, company declaring what is art,
Are as one proclaiming we are the artists, here’re our patrons.
There is a glitch… it’s enraging.


Ar Ar Nwebe

Now bowed down to earth burdened with questions unanswered,
If nothing’s up there: What is what and where is where?
Later realizing that asking is what it takes
To find the flicker of light in the darkest abyss.
The dark may not hold any answer
The agony can even put an end to the questioning.
For the triumph is reserved
For those who journey on and learn the lessons.
In the glitch… something’s beckoning.


Ar Ar Nwebe

The artist in bowing to the earth.
Hears the whispers of the spirit.
Of the earth, of the soul,
Of concepts long shackled
by the hands and the sun,
by the eagles and the durians.
The whispers now reverberating:
There’s more, there’s so much more.
Touch the Earth, touch your heart,
Say loud your name, call out your soul
For deep within there lies so much more.
Get those hands out of your canvases and walls
Raise them up and roar!
Cry out to the gods that be, seek out the dwende,
Because there’s more, there is so much more.
The glitch is now encouraging.


Ar Ar Nwebe

Dry, sandy, and loose dirt
Where no life can thrive
Cannot a man make.
Not a body, much less a soul.
What then are we returning to,
And what was it that preceded us?
Not the dust we know.
God’s dust they are, not ours.
Particles of energy and something else.
From there we came and will return.
It’s this something else that we’re here for.
The glitch is real and it’s enlightening.


Ar Ar Nwebe

There’s nothing there at the top, we’ve all learned that.
Power is temporary, wealth can be expended.
The structures we see before us, even artworks,
Were once something else and will be something else.
Beneath us, our roots, brings up the past, the identity.
But that is us as we were brought up to be.
Through our identities we define the psyche and the boundaries.
Look around where you are now and see
That building in front of you was once the swamps.
The food on your spoon was once a seed, an egg, a sperm.
The physical reality is transient, what is in today wasn’t


Ar Ar Nwebe

The permanent cannot come from the top of a totem nor our roots.
It’s within the brain, yet not quite there,
Connected to the divine, fed by the eternal.
The seat of the soul radiates, throbs, and grows
Nourished by a loving heart, made string by giving hands.
Inspirations of awesome dimensions can never
Come from becoming better than who came before.
We have to get past our our brains and prick our egos
To find that pearl of inspiration.
In the Seat, in the depths,
Beyond the brain,
Switched on by the heart…
Is the Us becoming, our true being.
Through the glitch we are all connecting,
finding, seeing… Oneness. With God and all.

Ar Ar Nwebe

Ar Ar Nwebe


Is this really art?

The past four years was an evolution of going inside ourselves, bowing down to earth to raise our souls as artists. In doing so, we are able to reach the depths of the human that we all are and find a sense of Oneness. There is an awakening to a knowing that we are more than this, that there is more to this. But at this stage, there are but questions expressed; answers still to come.

But in questioning, we recognize the glitch.

We started with a search for identity, now we embark on a search for consciousness. This is what 2023 Mindanao Art Fair is all about.