The curatorial board of Nothing to Declare (NTD) an international art project scheduled to exhibit at the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum, Yuchengco Museum and Cultural Center of the Philippines from November 16, 2011 to January 2012, has decided to withdraw from exhibiting at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Gallery.
Nothing to Declare is a contribution to contemporary discussions on migration, not only of people across borders, but of forms and realities across time and space. The NTD exhibits were supposed to function as platforms for art education, art criticism, workshops, artist talks and other activities aiming to make contemporary art accessible to a wider public, and to create a space for a lively exchange of ideas, even and especially if those ideas are unpopular. NTD focuses on those who have nothing to declare, those whose marginality is source of intervention and strength, of subterfuge and resistance, of constraint as well as change.
Recent events tell us that CCP, under the present administrative set-up is no longer the appropriate venue for such curatorial vision to thrive. In August 5, 2011, CCP has set a dangerous precedent against freedom of expression when it prematurely closed the “Kulo” exhibition featuring 32 works from artists who contributed to the curatorial concept of revolutionary ferment in contemporary Philippine society as inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal’s life. Key people of NTD –as individuals and as part of collectives and institutions – persistently urged the management to reopen the exhibit so that intelligent discussions can take place in a safe haven where artists as public intellectuals have the freedom to exhibit. The exhibit remained closed – clearly at odds not only with the position taken by the NTD organizers, but with the project’s curatorial predisposition towards subterfuge and resistance.
Such a vision and predisposition must find a home outside CCP, an institution unable to protect its autonomy and fulfil its mandate. Therefore we, NTD organizers urge fellow educators, cultural workers, curators and artists to come together and form alternative venues and spaces conducive to forming a community of critical audiences of art.
No to Censorship!
Uphold Freedom of Expression!
Flaudette May Datuin, head curator, UP Department of Art Studies faculty
Leo Abaya, associate curator (Vargas Museum), UP College of Fine Arts faculty
Claro Ramirez, associate curator (Yuchengco Museum)
Karen Flores, associate curator (alternative space) and former Visual Arts Director, CCP Precious Leano and Josephine Turalba, organizers