Artist and curator Merv Espina discusses the legacy of VIVA EXCON within the context of art biennials and festivals in Asia. Launched in 1990, VIVA EXCON (Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference) is the longest-running art biennial in the Philippines. Initiated by Black Artists in Asia, a Bacolod-based artist organisation formed in 1986, the biennial has been led and organised by artists since its inception. In this talk, Espina examines biennials in Asia located outside major cities, and explores how they transform the local art infrastructure as well as revealing how artists change the scope of these large-scale exhibitions.

Espina is Program Director of Metro Manila-based Green Papaya Art Projects, an artist-led initiative established in 2000, which is directing the fourteenth edition of VIVA EXCON in November 2018. He is currently conducting research on the exhibition history of VIVA EXCON for Green Papaya’s collection, which includes more than 300 artist-donated artworks. This collective archive also includes a wealth of material on the Metro Manila art scene's distinct history of experimental art.

Merv Espina is an artist and researcher based in Metro Manila. He is Program Director for the artist-run, interdisciplinary platform Green Papaya Art Projects; Cook & Janitor for WSK, a media art kitchen and annual “festival of the recently possible”; Co-founder of The Kalampag Tracking Agency, a Philippine moving image screening and archiving initiative; and Co-founder of the sonic arts platform Kamuning Public Radio. Recent co-curatorial work includes SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now (2017), “MISFITS”: Pages from a Loose-leaf Modernity (2017), and VIVA EXCON Capiz (2018).

Address: A Space, 10/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan

Free and open to the public with registration.

Espina’s residency is part of The Ha Bik Chuen Archive Project (2016–2019), generously supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

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