More than 30 artists were gathered to feature works meant to spur talks on intellectual property.
To spark talks on the subject of intellectual property, Vetro, a gallery along Congressional Avenue, will be giving the guests of its newest exhibit a chance to “commit piracy”—but not without making it taxing for them to do so.
The show is entitled “The Bootleg Project;” Scheduled to run from June 9 to the end of the month, it is an interdisciplinary affair that will is expected to be a controversial installation prepared by Gladys Regalado and Czyka Tumaliuan, the co-founder of Makati City’s Kwago book bar.
“Their work is very interesting,” said the gallery’s curator, Indy Paredes. Making use of a screen and a full-length mirror, the pair intends to set up a space where people can illegally download independent e-books carried by Kwago. Naturally, they said, there is a catch: the process of acquisition will be rigged with complications put in place to challenge the resolve of the would-be downloaders. What these are exactly, the two did not fully divulge. But they assured that it will amplify the complicated ordeal people willingly go through just to acquire online material illegally.
“It will be like a game,” Regalado said. “You’ll undergo a lot of stuff before you are able to download the file.”
“Gusto namin i-recreate yung experience na pinagdaraanan ng nagpa-pirate ng libro [We want to recreate the experience of people who pirate books,]” said Tumaliuan. And after doing so, the installation will try to stir up the guilt they believe perpetrators should feel.
Why? Because “[people] don’t have that,” Regalado said. “It has become so natural to us that the internet has free stuff that we don’t respect creativity.” And this, according to Paredes, is just one of the points Vetro would like to make with its new show.
Sitting on one of the sofas at gallery earlier this week, surrounded by the boxy figures of a concluding show, Paredes explained that “The Bootleg Project” seeks to look into the nature of works stemming from other works. “When it comes to art,” he said, “there is an increase in people claiming that ‘this one’ is copying from ‘this.’” But, as he added, one cannot simply dismiss the merits of the former because of that; there are times when even as a piece displays aspects that visibly imitate a predecessor, it still cannot always be invalidated too easily. This is the reality that surfaces the subjects of intellectual property, commodification in the creative community, and the culture of counterfeiting that persist in various forms of local art. And all of which, said Paredes, will be touched upon by the works to be presented on the show.
“I think it’s a good thing to discuss,” he said. And the Bootleg Project intends to be the catalyst for such a discussion between the artists and the guests.
Bringing together the likes of zines, prints, toys, mixtapes and interactive elements that will urge guests to be involved, the facets of this exhibit are meant to be conversation starters. And once the talking begins, what Paredes calls the ultimate output of the show will materialize.
“Yung piyesa talaga is the experience [the real piece is the experience,]” he said. And Vetro—glassy, angular Vetro—will be frame that houses it; a circumstance that will be in line with gallery’s current course.
Founded by Leo Cheng, Vetro (which is Italian for ‘glass’) was originally envisioned to focus on photography. With nigh-transparent interiors, the place (since its launch in 2016) has made significant attempts to feature some of the most notable photographers in the Philippines. But ever since Paredes came onboard December last year, Vetro’s mandate changed.
“Vetro kasi, way back, dati siyang photo studio na may mga exhibitions on photography [Vetro way back used to be a photo studio that has exhibitions on photography,]” he said. But he noticed two things resulting from this: the first are the significant gaps suffered by the gallery in between exhibits; the second is the general behavior guests tend showcase when coming to the gallery.
“Nakakakita kasi ako ng viewers na papasok lang sa gallery, lalabas, tapos tapos na [I see a lot of viewers go into the gallery, go out and that’s it,]” he said. “Hanggang visual lang or pag nakapag-upload lang sa Instagram. [The interaction is just on a visual level, or until they get to upload on their Instagram.]”
Hoping to curb these outcomes, Parades proposed a conceptual overhaul. “Make it open to any kind of art,” he said. “Mas maganda if hindi siya stiff [It would be better if it isn’t so stiff.]”
The proposal has been accepted and since then, Vetro has become a venue that features various disciplines. Last March, for example, the gallery showcased its first solo exhibit with “Religion”: a collection that allowed artist Rinne Abrugena to explore and respond to the catholic dogma that raised him. The show featured paintings from the artist that were supplemented by eye-catching décor that includes a clutter of red shoes and shredded pieces of paper. A month ago, meanwhile, Vetro did a show called “Here is Gone;” it featured the works of six artists who took it upon themselves to examine the subject of impermanence through paintings and sculptures. And for this month, there’s the Bootleg Project, an endeavor hoping to steal the public’s attention and get them involved.
“With art, kailangan mas lumakas yung impact niya with this generation [With art, it needs to increase its impact with this generation,]” he said. “Tutal maingay naman yung generation na ito. Art can move this country, I think [After all, this generation is very vocal. Art can move this country, I think.]”