Public Art Projects

Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument


Thomas Hirschhorn, Gramsci Monument, 2013
Daily Lecture, Marcus Steinweg
Forest Houses, Bronx, New York
Courtesy Dia Art Foundation, Photo: Romain Lopez

“As the artist states over and over again, his work is for ‘energy’ and against ‘quality’. Energy is what we invest in things and people, such as radio shows, newspaper columns, classroom lessons and conversations over coffee while perched on rudimentary bar stools. It’s present in decisions that take us out of our way and out of our depths. It’s present in a work of art – and this is a paraphrase of Hirschhorn’s lesson from the Monument’s Friday art class – when that work of art offers evidence of the energy, decision and consequent thought that went into making it.” – Jonathan T. D. Neill, Dispatches from New York: Politics, race, gun and art


City Spaces and Public Art :Social process and situated practice

Art Studies 198 is a Special Topics course for the Art Studies curriculum at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.


Julie Lluch, Arsenio Lacson, Bay Walk Malate Manila
Image Eric Guazon

It examines various issues emerging from public art practice in specific urban contexts. It analyzes the notion of ‘public-ness’ in art practice labelled public, ‘location’ evoking not just physical space but also entwined facets of design, funding and reception of public art. The course considers public art practice and projects in Metro Manila contexts, ranging from traditionally commissioned public monuments to new and emergent public art practice both by artists and artist collectives.


Bea Camacho, Remember, The Fort Global City
Image courtesy Reginald Yuson

It raises the question of public art’s capacity to affect, gather and influence ‘inquiring’ audiences. As it takes on an equally inquisitive trajectory in its exploration of public art’s situated-ness in urban space, it likewise attempts to identify criteria to assess public art’s efficacy in shaping dialogues and fostering discourse in public space.


Wire Tuazon, Amphibian, Neo-Angono Public Art Festival
Image courtesy Wire Tuazon

Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 exhibition

Engaging interactive resource to accompany landmark MOCA Geffen Contemporary exhibition Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, curated by Philip Kaiser and Miwon Kwon.,,16325753_303,00.jpg

Hreinn Fridfinnsson’s “House Project.” Fridfinnsson built an “inside-out” house in an uninhabited lava field near Reykjavik in 1974, decorating the exterior of the house with wallpaper and curtains for hikers to stumble across – image source

Gallery of images:


Napoleon Abueva’s Tribute to the Filipino Entrepreneur

At the center of the ISSI (Institute of Small Scale Industries) atrium is Napoleon Abueva’s Tribute to the Filipino Entrepreneur, its dais submerged in a pond. The work symbolizes the “massive, bold and imaginative programs of small industry development in the country.” Water cascades on the circular-tiered base which rises to a point half-way through the building floors. The vertical form gathers abstract, rectilinear parts in steel, the soft swell seen upfront contrasting markedly with steel’s sturdy and unrelenting nature.


Napoleon Abueva’s Tribute to the Filipino Entrepreneur

Atop the dais is the sculpture’s support, bisecting planes that further rise to a composite crest of cubes and flat, undulating sheets. The piece is comprehended through its triad of parts, the base, its central support that rises to a finial of lines and intersecting space. Tribute to the Filipino Entrepreneur lends a near mechanized congruence due its material and the manner its parts seem to have been magnetized, coming together through concealed chemistry of material and form. (TM Guazon)


View from the west, Abueva’s Tribute

UPdate Diliman article

An article on the project in the UP Community newspaper:

“During the program, Junyee requested for 15 volunteers from the audience to cut pieces of white cloth hanging from the ropes with tin cans and pierce the cloth on the ground using a barbeque stick. Junyee explained the activity was just like what he did in 1970, during his first interactive exhibit in the University. He added that the activity enabled the audience “…to become part of the art and have a clear memory about it that would last for a long time. It also symbolizes the Filipinos’ bayanihan spirit.Read more of the article.

Catalogue pages

The art projects are accompanied by a study guide and a catalog. Kindly check our Education page for the former, sharing the latter here. It includes a timeline of public art projects in the university. Image

Marking Expanse

Tessa Maria Guazon

Plot is about making form as it is about carving space. The rolling terrain of the sculpture garden makes Plot an apt title. The garden reminded of my childhood vegetable patches. Plot has interesting references to action, movement, and design. Plot then may well be understood through these inflections. It connotes active stance, lending itself well to metaphor, and creative imagining. It can mean ‘to mark space’ or ‘to stake boundaries’.

As artistic strategy, Plot subverts common associations with hatching a secret plan. Instead of plans or in the case of this project, art works made in confined spaces, their making was in a commonly and publicly accessed space. Altogether, the works by Junyee, Reg Yuson and Leeroy New aimed at engaging diverse viewers in the process of reforming given space and its elements.


The garden before the works were installed (Eric Guazon 2013)

The project was informed by an encompassing research on public art and cities I began in 2000. For PIot, I wanted a deeper engagement with public art practice, its various expressions and their place within Philippine art history. It is fitting to recall this essay’s opening sentence – Plot is as much an exhibition as it is about a research project. The choice of artists was deliberate, tinkered with for over a year or so. I wanted their bodies of work to represent significant shifts in sculpture, site-specific pieces, installation works, commissioned and otherwise in the context of Philippine art.

Junyee is pioneer of site-specific art in the Philippines. His piece for Plot cogently illustrates his sharp sense of sprawl and how best to expand or contract it by intervention through site. This gives an inkling of Junyee’s deep understanding of nature and its forces, reminding us in the quietest of ways ecosystems now in precarious states. His installation of ropes with sounding cans mimic those installed in rice fields. They are meant to ward off birds. Yet others say the sound is also music to green, flourish and nourishment to sapling.


Junyee at the walk through (EGG 2013)

Yuson’s sculpture practice is to great degree informed by the capacities of both material and form to convey ideas.  His works are markedly minimal, near internationalist in bent, fittingly commissioned and located in leisure spaces inside corporate hubs. Yuson’s practice is shaped by the significance of cities in the global arena and the mobilization of culture in crafting urban images. The artist was struck by the red out house in the garden. The structure stood out among surrounding greenery but never inspected.

Yuson employed the strategy of de-familiarization by cloaking the structure with mirror on all sides. It disappeared, and somehow what was once familiar but unnoticed became an absent yet significant element of the landscape. From when the mirrors went up, passers-by descended to the garden to play before their reflections. Walking past, we see the entire environment doubly reflected on the mirror surface. Through absence of existing structure, we are keenly attuned to surrounding environment.


Reg Yuson beside the mirror-encased red structure (EGG 2013)

Leeroy New builds house atop a sturdy tree in the center of the garden. In his proposal for Plot as well as other projects, New demonstrates his zealous exploration of material and form. A latent organic growth underlies his projects, whether materials are natural or synthetic. New’s works speak of unbridled growth, a curious morphing into forms playful, alien, and near grotesque sometimes. Yet in New’s hands even the monstrous is lent the quality of stark fascination. The artist constructs an inhabitable tree house in a bucolic setting. Our expectations stem from a similar piece he did in Ilocos, an ensemble of bamboo constructed to look strangely like an alien ship stranded in sand dunes.


Up the tree house (EGG 2013)

All three artists share a practice that crosses over to design –  planning residences, landscaping gardens, rural based social projects, theatre sets, jewelry and fashion, among others. Collaboration is central to such engagements. Needless to say, their art is versatile, and like the site where their pieces are now located, expansive. Underlying their art is desire to extend its scope, widen its reach through innovative means in engaging audiences, and unflagging exploration of forms responsive to specific contexts.

Passing time in the garden on a gold lit afternoon, seeing these new additions to the landscape, my view framed by the scalloped arc of trees surrounding the uneven terrain, it is hard to deny the near pastoral air that suffuses the scene. Yet we see art thriving amidst rampant growth, salient reminder of our hand in crafting this very place where nature frames our gestures and marks our attempts to stall time.

An Interaksyon feature on PLOT

Romsanne Ortiguero’s article on PLOT lucidly explaining the goals for the project.

“Gusto naming makita ng audience o non-artists iyong ( we want the audiences or non-artists to see) space in a new light through the works. So we wanted to draw in audiences, we wanted them to look at the space with a different appreciation perhaps or a different understanding…”

A Conversation on Art Histories

Join us in a rare gathering of art historians in Manila. Image

Walk through with artists

A walk through with artists Junyee and Reg Yuson took place 15th March 2013, Friday. Project catalog was also launched together with a study guide for university students enrolled in courses in Art Studies, Fine Arts, and Architecture.

Photographs by Eric Guazon.


Waiting for guests


Guests poring over exhibition catalog


Artists Gus Albor and Jonah Salvosa


Junyee and Louise Marcelino


Tessa Maria Guazon and Junyee


Reg Yuson, Gus Albor, Jonah Salvosa


Prof. Gerard Rey Lico, UP Diliman Campus Architect and Head of the NCCA Subcommittee on Architecture and the Allied Arts


Gus Albor, Reg Yuson, Silvana Diaz of Galeria Duemila with Tessa Maria Guazon and guests


Stillness characteristic of four o’clock in the garden


Junyee gesturing towards open space before him


The first of hopefully numerous opportunities to work together


Lighthearted after the walk through, cheers to public art and its possibilities!