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Making fun at and of the CCP

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THEY REFUSE to share their real identities as artists, so we will call them Peter and Pilar, but collectively, they are called koloWn. The group does not have fixed members; people come and go. KoloWn, a group of Cebuano artists, got its name from Cebu’s Colon, the country’s oldest – and shortest – national road.

Like Britain’s Banksy, the unknown artist who paints “why” on the streets and walls of Bonifacio Global City, and the many other street and punk artists who came before them, koloWn likes to play around with public spaces. In Cebu, they paint or put up art installations in random public areas. Sometimes they are caught, sometimes they are not.

“I don’t know, we like the adrenaline I guess,” Pilar told BusinessWorld. She added that their canvases are public spaces, anyway.

KoloWn was in Manila last Sept. 7 for its exhibit of installations and other pieces called Low Pressured Area, which is on view at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) until Oct. 22.

“The name of the exhibition is word play first, on graffiti, because the pressure of the paint to the wall is ‘low,’ which allows you to paint smoothy, second, the exhibition title alludes to the weather disturbance that creates pressure or commotion to a region or area,” said Peter. In short, the exhibition wants to stir people’s mundane lives.

The artists have maximized the CCP, not sparing its four floors and the lawn outside where people usually jog and bike. They have turned the institution into both their canvas and their playground.

The CCP’s main building has a number of spaces that seem to lead somewhere, but are actually dead ends. Playing around with these odd spaces, koloWn has put a neon “exit” sign at one corner that leads to nowhere. Peppered within the compound are 16 other pieces, including an installation of a man’s silhouette inside an old telephone booth, apparently making a phone call, at the CCP’s first floor. Perhaps Peter and Pilar want to dupe people, or simply surprise passersby, employees, and theatergoers to make them ask about the surroundings they are in.

At the third floor, there is a room with two large windows reminiscent of those in shopping malls – koloWn took advantage of this similarity and covered them with two tarpaulins saying “50% off.” Curious passersby peeking inside the room will see that the artists installed artworks that are cut in half.

Outside, at the CCP’s lawn, koloWn installed a wall on which is written a Web address, “bit.ly/2c1Ggqy,” hoping that people will be curious enough to check out the site – which lets them virtually doodle on (or is it vandalize?) the CCP’s facade.

There is nothing grand about koloWn’s installations, but Peter said their goal is to “make you ask questions and not take everything at face value.” And if you do have a question, they made Bruce (Brain Research Unit for Creative Environment), an online robot, to answer your questions. One just needs to log on to bruce.kolown.net and ask exhibition-related questions. – Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman

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