BLISS MARKET: art and exchange for these times

What happens to a space neglected as a matter of history, now but a vestige of the kind of community it was, as rendered by the space then, only a figment of nostalgia now? How does one do justice to memory and balance it with the present, one that can only be about what’s been lost, and what remains in crisis?

Bliss Market: Exchange in the Time | Space of Transience is an art project that looks to the University of the Philippines Bliss community for inspiration, even as its task is to intervene in the space’s current state: neglected and forgotten post-EDSA 1986, a Marcos project as it was. Cutting across the U.P. Bliss, the San Vicente community beside it, and the U.P. Vargas Museum at U.P. Diliman, Bliss Market seeks to re-engage with the notions of community and exchange that were crucial to the space’s creation.

The central symbol here is the Bliss Mart, which used to stand at the center of U.P. Bliss – a small grocery and community center in one, at a time when communal living was about exchange, neighborly and informal, from conversations to small product barters. Along with the Bliss Mart were playgrounds and open areas for leisure, a measure of the U.P. Bliss as well-conceptualized space for communal living.

But history and change would dictate upon the neglect of these spaces, the reconfiguration of community that has become more and more focused on staying in, looking to self, drawing a line between home and the outside. The outside as such is forgotten, the spaces disappear as they are neglected.

Bliss Market intervenes upon this current state of the U.P. Bliss, bringing in art that’s premised on a sense of the community’s history on the one hand, the notions of bliss on the other. Here intervention is about an exchange with the community as well, as artists are enjoined to engage with the space, listen in on the stories that are here, traverse the silences between past glory and current crises, memory and the present. The goal is to be able to make art that will resonate with the community, as it will with the bigger world that must know of a space such as the U.P. Bliss, too. Art in this sense is a way of enjoining the community to step out, look to the same things, and live in the same space again.

Bliss Market: Exchange in the Time | Space of Transience runs at the U.P. Bliss from May 17 to June 23 2012 as a breathing and evolving art project that includes art works and installations, film showings, performances, workshops and artist talks by 30 Filipino artists and artist groups. A related exhibition will open at the U.P. Vargas Museum on May 17 2012 and will run until June 09 2012.  Bliss Market was conceptualized by J Pacena II.


For a complete schedule check out and