The pursuit for contemporariness has never been as profoundly rampant as it is now in the Philippines. When the contemporary scene broke mid-2000s the ubiquitous championing of the alternative economy of production and play effectively paved the way to support unrestrained deregulation and indiscriminate aestheticization of all aspects of life. Thanks to the emergence of self-administered creativity that shamelessly flaunts nomadism, precarity, individualism, and the DIY-spirit, the artist has become no more than an entrepreneur peddling his/her acuity to transform creativity into currency. So much so that even supposedly radical movements claiming to espouse an emancipatory cultural revolution are quick to take within their ranks the most sellable painter in the art auction market to instrumentalize the struggle of the marginalized. So much so that anti-establishment market-resistant artists have conveniently generated a demand for anti-establishment art sought after by anti-establishment art collectors and presented in swanky anti-establishment galleries or glossy anti-establishment magazines. So much so that profit-driven platforms like Art Fair Philippines, Cinemalaya, MNL Fringe, Virgin Labfest, Art in the Park, and other circuses have superseded the roles of public institutions and become the primary purveyors of knowledge, art, and culture. So much so that public institutions for knowledge production like the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Cultural Center of the Philippines, and University of the Philippines have become nothing but mere business managers leasing out public support to profit-driven endeavors. This is the grammar of our time — the contemporary of the time. The contemporary is the bandwagon that is poisoning our continued growth and impeding our march to a radical and equitable future. And hence to be new is to resist the contemporary, to fall out from the grace of the illusory democracy of alternative economies and finally break free from the entrepreneurial opportunism of flexibility. To be new is to be robust, uncompromising, rigid and obscure from the history of the present.
Donna Miranda is a choreographer living and working in the Philippines. She studied Anthropology at the University of the Philippines and received specialized training in contemporary dance in Philippines and Europe. At the moment she is producing works that delimit the notion of the choreographic through critical engagements with the institutions of dance and the body working along the intersection between choreography, public health and policy. She makes a living as a development worker providing communication and advocacy support to an international NGO on working in health and disaster risk reduction.