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In Art Fair Philippines 2024, a growing number of galleries speak volumes about climate change 

In Art Fair Philippines 2024, art pieces that speak volumes about climate changeĀ 

While art and beauty take front and center at every Art Fair Philippines, the highly anticipated annual art event this year made sure it sent a message about the most pressing issue of our time: Climate change.

The move is aligned with the rest of the international art scene, which is taking notice of and giving importance to climate change.

Apart from mounting full shows about it — the MCAD last year mounted the moving group show "Adaptation: A Reconnected Earth” of which Filipino artist Derek Tumala participated — museums the world over have also started appointing a curator for climate, as the case of Sainsbury Centre, which became the first UK museum to appoint a curator for climate when it designated Filipino curator Ken Paranada to the role. 

While climate change and the environment have yet to claim the spotlight at Art Fair Philippines, a growing number of booths and galleries have started to shine a light on the important topic, which is really about time. 

In 2023, Planet Earth crossed the 1.5C of warming, which is the limit set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Everybody must do their part, including the art scene. 

At Art Fair, the galleries and booths talking about climate change manage to do so with beautiful and refined pieces. Some bring with them direct messages about the urgency of the climate crisis, while others offer opportunities for contemplation and reflection on how we got here. 

Below are a few that caught our eye:

Be a Tree, Art Fair Projects, 7th floor


The interactive display asks participants to "do a little dance and become a tree." Created by Spanish artist Eugenio Ampudia, the display asks Art Fair visitors to imagine themselves as a tree and dance in front of the camera, which results in a multiple-exposure image resembling a tree canopy. 

With hopes of dissolving the divide between nature and humans, Be A Tree is motivated by the idea of the Biocene, which reevaluates the role of humans on earth. Just like a tree, the grass, the ocean and the bees, humans are interdependent beings that rely on others to live.

In the Art Fair website, Ampudia shared his hope: “Ultimately, I would like to create a forest with all the citizens that will participate in the action in the Philippines, that will demonstrate society's interest in resolving the climate crisis.” 

A Warm Orange Colored Liquid. Ayala Tower One, Fountain Area 

Right at the entrance of Ayala Triangle Gardens stands the latest work of Derek Tumala: An imposing gigantic orange ball made with recycled pulp paper and metal structure. 

It is the artist's attempt at recreating the sun while also harnessing its power: The structure runs on solar energy, and according to Tumala, the electricity generated throughout its duration has the capacity to power the average Filipino household for a month. Doesn't that make you think of solar energy as something that is utterly doable? 

Transitioning to clean energy is among the most important of climate action as it decreases our reliance on fossil fuel, the burning of which is the number one contributor to global warming.

"As the climate crisis rages on, we find ourselves becoming more experimental with the ways that we view sustainable development in the long run," Tumala said on Instagram.


Nunu Fine Art, 5th floor

Among the artists featured in Taiwanese gallery Nunu Fine Art's booth is Ana Teresa Barboza, a Peruvian multidisciplinary artist whose quietly intricate textile art nudges us to take a thoughtful look at our environment.

From investigating her relationship with native plants after experiencing the dry forest of northern Peru to expressing "the inwardness of all beings in nature," Barboza uses local traditional weaving, natural dyes, and local materials that all reflect her territorial approach and deep connection to Peru.



If Trees Could Talk 

At Art Fair Philippines, The Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development (Canvas) introduces the first If Trees Could Talk international Art Biennale, something of a culmination after previously mounting three If Trees Could Talk group exhibits.

Works of participating artists like Elmer Borlongan, Geraldine Javier, Leeroy New, and Mark Salvatus to name a few, are displayed at Canvas' booth at the fair, which should tell you the aim of the If Trees Could Talk biennale: To spark reflection and dialogue on environmental issues especially climate change through art. 



Also on display is a shelf of postcards that Canvas had received after issuing a global call last year to write and visualize an imagine conversation between yourself and trees. The prompt — If Trees Could Talk — should get your imaginations going.

The Biennale will open at 9:30am on Saturday, February 24 in Batangas and will run until June 24, 2024. Read more about it here.

Art Fair Philippines runs until Sunday, February 18. Read about the Singapore-based Filipino architect who rediscovered painting in the pandemic and is now exhibiting at Art Fair. 

— GMA Integrated News