Untitled, Heidi Bucher, 1955, oil on canvas

Benilde Open Design + Art seeks to open, explore the ‘curious mindset’

Last year’s edition chose 11 proposals, each receiving a grant of P300,000 for their project to be realized.

Curiosity is vital to us humans. It compels us to learn and discover. It is what drives innovation and invention, and to an immense degree, the survival of our species. It is always the curious ones who ask the questions, the ones who take the next steps, and the ones who break barriers to reveal possibilities. 

In celebration of its 35th year, the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde launches Benilde Open Design and Art 2024, events that bring together creatives of all kinds, from all walks of life.

This unique celebration reflects how, over three decades, the institution has evolved to become a pillar of the local arts scene. Benilde Open Design + Art will see the coming together of artists, architects, technologists, engineers, industrial designers, craftsmen, illustrators, textile designers, animators, playwrights, composers, poets, filmmakers, cinematographers, lighting designers, fashion designers, chefs, and all creative practitioners were invited to submit proposals to realize projects that have not seen the light of day.

Benilde Open grantees

Ten proposals for the Benilde Open category were selected. Each has received a grant of P300,000 for their project to be realized. In addition, there is one special mention that has received full funding from a private donor in the amount of P300,000.

Tropikalye by Nice Buenaventura and Costantino Zicarelli is an online index of photographs and text highlighting the accidental intersections of contemporary Philippine aesthetics and the everyday from the vantage point of the street. 

Nightingales by RJ Fernandez acknowledges the presence of Filipinos in the UK’s National Health Service by collaborating with three Filipino nurses from East Sussex through an observational documentary video that shows their daily life, as well their horticultural activities as they learn to grow food in a community garden. 

Stakeholding: Chapter 1, A Developing Tabletop Game by Lyra Garcellano explores the various features of contemporary art and culture. The game proposes discussions and conversations that take off from philosophical queries, such as: How do we design a new art world? What do we do when we collide with other worlds/communities—do we occupy and conquer or do we cooperate and collaborate?

RE-MOVE: Unraveling truths behind the spectacle of indigenous exposition through the contemporary performance lens by Aaron Kaiser Garcia retraces the history of the Filipino body all the way back to the first Human Zoo in 1889. The project aims to highlight how colonial infrastructures remove cultural artifacts from our indigenous communities; and in response to this removal, we aim to recreate, reimagine, and re—move our bodies to shine a light on this spectacle of indigenous exposition and exploitation.

Unraveling Baguio’s Inner Tapestry: A Psychogeographical Exploration through Sensory Encounters by Gabe Mercado employs creative interventions and collaborative practices to deconstruct dominant tourist narratives and engage participants in a critical and embodied understanding of the city’s multifaceted identity through unscripted walks.

Maria, Maria by Lala Monserrat in collaboration with Russ Ligtas, Geric Cruz, and Jazel Kristin is a conversation between resident artists of Casa San Miguel Center for the Arts in San Antonio, Zambales and a group of young locals of the LGBTQ community residing in Barangay San Miguel. The project lends itself to the fostering of collaborative work and collective care for artists and the public by creating a safe space within the intersections of art, community engagement, and cultural mapping through performance, photography, film, and sculpture.

Cosmic Garden by Issay Rodriguez establishes an empathic connection between human perception and the creative interpretation of data. By merging art and technology, the artist seeks to inspire curiosity and explore innovative solutions that foster positive impacts. 

Developing Puppetry in the Philippines by Mikayla Teodoro aims to introduce new puppetry arts to turn the country into a puppetry hub in Southeast Asia. Advanced mechanisms in puppetry are explored and local puppet makers trained to create complex puppet joints. 

Curious: Spotlight on Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Literature by Michael Vea focuses on integrating FSL Literature within the landscape of Philippine literary arts through a pioneering creative signing workshop and an exhibition featuring works from five deaf literary fellows. 

Errol P. Balcos

Aside from the 10 grantees, the convenors decided to grant a special mention to an unrealized project, giving it full funding from a private donor:

Baluy Manghagdaway: A Functional Installation Art Created in Collaboration with the Umayamnon Community of Barangay Mandahican, Lambagan and Mandaing Municipality of Cabanglasan by Errol P. Balcos is about a visual artist’s advocacy for the rights of corn gleaners as Indigenous Peoples.

Best of Benilde” selected projects

Aside from the 11 selected projects for the Benilde Open, the event also features 17 student proposals that have been selected for the “Best of Benilde” category. These students have received full curatorial support.

  1. Designing Space for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Ryan Jacobson’s “Can you Survive Dracula” by Louisa Ray Cagaligen
  2. The Local Identity by Xandrix Antaso Corpuz Jr 
  3. Ang Paglipad ng Saranggola sa Aplaya by Danielle Cusi 
  4. Hugo: A Smart Pillow for Self-Regulation by Asia Entico 
  5. Hustlers by Gela Mae C. Gamil 
  6. Everglow Art Retreats by Veronica Landig 
  7. Biyahe: Design of a Board Game for Visual Impaired Filipinos by Pia Maghirang 
  8. PXXXXXXPORN.JPEG by Earl John Marquez 
  9. Sinulid 2023: Renascence by Earl John Marquez 
  10. Project Noir by Camille Jay Pinton
  11.  Gender Reveal by Brian Ilustrisimo Razon 
  12.  Studen.Site (Student Residences Website) by Jonas Roque
  13.  Surreal Portraits by Akira Watanabe 
  14.  PROJECT C.H.A.R.L.I.E (Computerized Hotel Assessment Responder and Learning Intelligence Engine) by Liezel Ann Nierves, Glaeor Magne Dominguez, and Mariana Julian Bernal, with faculty mentor Alejandro Hector Reyes
  15.  Ballpark (Benilde All-Purpose Parking) by Jonas Fabian Roque, Shane Mariel Figuerra, Charles Cedric Quianzon, John Patrick Pascua, and Maria Abigail Uson 
  16.  Layag by Jasmine Fiona Tan, Sofia Anjelik Barrion, and Ynes Sofia Manguerra 
  17.  The Kid in Me by Jasmila Clarisse San, Mary Julianne Capistrano, Mary Joy Velarde, Alfred Alavar, and Nicus Villaluna 

Benilde Open selection committee

Proposals totaling 324 have submitted by creative industry practitioners and Benilde students to an esteemed pool of critics. The selection committee is composed of distinguished practitioners from various local and international creative industries sectors.

Jonathan Gander, PhD is head of the School of Creative Industries, Lasalle College of the Arts, University of Arts Singapore. He has been an academic for over 20 years teaching also in management schools in the United Kingdom.

Alexie Glass-Kantor is a curator, an advocate for the arts, and the executive director of Artspace, Sydney. She was a former curator of the Australian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. She is the current curator of the Encounters section of Art Basel Hong Kong.

Mara Hermano is the vice president for Institutional Research and Planning in Boston College. She was the founding vice president of Integrated Planning at the Rhode Island School of Design. 

Paul Pfeiffer is an internationally acclaimed multidisciplinary artist. On view until June 2024, is a retrospective of his work at the The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles, California, USA—”Paul Pfeiffer: Prologue to the Story of the Birth of Freedom.”

Erwin Romulo is a multi-awarded writer, editor, music producer and composer, and creative consultant. He has consistently received awards from the Young Critics Circle, Gawad Urian, FAMAS, and others for best in sound and aural orchestration and best musical score for his numerous collaborations with respected, award-winning film directors Lav Diaz and Erik Matti.

Pauline Suaco-Juan is a former executive director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) Philippines. She served as editor-in-chief of Preview magazine for 15 years.

Ikko Yokoyama is a Japanese museum curator and writer whose fields of interest are architecture, design, and craft. She is the lead curator of design and architecture at the M+ Museum in Hong Kong, a position she has held since 2016. Previously she was the head of exhibitions at Kontsfack University College of Arts, Crafts, and Design in Stockholm.

“Heidi Bucher: and Pull Yesterday into Today” exhibit

Part of the event is the “Heidi Bucher: and Pull Yesterday into Today” exhibit mounted by the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) Manila, featuring the oeuvre of the renowned Swiss artist as part of the launch of Benilde Open Design + Art.

Das Audienzzimmer des Doktor Binswanger (Sanatorium Bellevue, Kreuzlingen) / The Audience Room of Doctor Binswanger (Sanatorium Bellevue, Kreuzlingen, Heidi Bucher, 1988.
Photo courtesy of Art Sonje Center, Seoul, South Korea

The exhibition comes to the Philippines after two successful outings at key exhibition spaces Art Sonje Center in Seoul, South Korea and the Red Brick Museum in Beijing, China. The last leg of Bucher’s Asian sojourn comes to Southeast Asia here in Manila.

Bucher (1926-1993) is one of the most important artists of the international neo-avant-garde. Trained as a dressmaker who studied fashion and textiles at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts under Johannes Itten and a key member of the Bauhaus, her practice encompassed architecture, spatial installations, drawings, sculptures, and collaborative performances. She tested materials like textiles for architecture, architecture in the air, collages on silk, and sculptures as performances, seeking to bring nature into her art.

Heute fliesst das Wasser aus dem Krug (The water flows out of the pitcher today),
Heidi Bucher 1986. Photo courtesy of Art Sonje Center, Seoul, South Korea

Bucher’s initial fascination with the interplay between art and fashion was highlighted in her genderless body sculptures Bodyshells and Bodywrappings, which emerged in California in the early 1970s. The Production Design students from DLS-CSB and MCAD will reproduce these wearable sculptures in collaboration with The Estate of Heidi Bucher.

There will be a series of performances by the Bachelor in Performing Arts, Major in Dance program students wearing the sculpture throughout the show.

Public programs 

Benilde Open will also have exciting and enriching public programs for everyone. There is a conversation on Swiss artist Heidi Bucher featuring her sons Indigo and Mayo. Weekly guided tours are offered for free to the public to the Benilde Open, Best of Benilde, and “Heidi Bucher: and Pull Yesterday into Today” exhibition.

Weekly guided tours are offered for free to the public to the Benilde Open, Best of Benilde, and Heidi Bucher exhibit.

The Benilde Open grantees and Best of Benilde students have a line up of talks and activities on puppetry, psychogeography, performance, fashion, and board games. Fireside chats are scheduled on creative courage, grant proposal writing, women in design and architecture, and creative industry unicorns.

Benilde faculty members, meanwhile, have a lineup of workshops on printmaking, prosthetics, intellectual property, and lesson plan design with exhibitions. These are open to students, faculty, and non-Benildeans.

The event will be held in three locations: De La Salle College of Saint Benilde – Design + Arts Campus, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) Manila, and Hub for Innovation.

Exhibitions of the selected proposals open to the public on May 23 until June 30 at several spaces in De La Salle College of Saint Benilde – Design + Arts Campus, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) Manila, and Hub for Innovation.

Benilde Open Design + Art is presented in synergy with De La Salle University and the Embassy of Switzerland.

Other exhibition partners are Friend of Benilde Open Design + Art, Philippine Airlines, Malayan Insurance, Uratex, Lopez Memorial Museum, POWER MAC Center, and Bridges PR.

This pioneering initiative is in synergy with De La Salle University and the Embassy of Switzerland.

The new lifestyle.