“Omnilogue: a roundtable discussion” hosted by alternative space 98b was a very fruitful event held last May 21 at 7pm in Cubao, Quezon City.   Three curators convened in an intimate space, whose barriers between the audience and the speakers were broken – thus creating a more intimate and engaged atmosphere.  As an independent curator in Manila, I was always curious about the practice of colleague Jaime Pacena II, especially after attending the same curatorial symposium held at the Vargas Museum the year after he participated.  The talk gave me an opportunity to get to know his practice, and the projects that he was able to initiate and complete during his Residency of the JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) program for creators supported by the Japan Foundation.


The presentation of the participants (Jaime Pacena II, Azusa Hashimoto and Shihoko Iida) on their independent practices and finally on their co-curated project, Omnilogue – consisting of exhibitions of Japanese contemporary art and its engagement in Perth and New Delhi (and a future project in Singapore) – fit very well with the concept of the roundtable discussion.  It was as if, the discussion is being continued – and even extended to the audience of Manila for critical dialog, waiting for an honest impression amongst engagement practices and current negotiations on art production via a practicing alternative space in Southeast Asia (98b).


The platform was very informal, and relaxed, with flowing and continuous refreshments and participation from the audience – an atmosphere conducive for genuine criticism and openness.  I felt these types of discussions effective – it was as if the barrier between the speaker and audience were broken, as such, a continuous natural dialog was taking its course – an opposite direction away from the typical canonical and pre-meditated “Artist talk”, whose discussions usually veer towards the nature of economics and the markets’ influence on current trends.


I have always supported the alternative visions of artistic communities – because I feel that this is where genuine art production, and critical discussion thrives.  When the market becomes “secondary” in artistic practices and discussions – there is more room for ideas and negotiations are usually based on contemporary ideas (not influence).  I appreciate the ideas that these three curators were able to build up out of a shared interest towards interdisciplinary approaches in art-making in Asia, and in creating platforms to discuss what is “current”, and “relevant” and how dialog can be effective in crossing the boundaries between artistic communities. 


It is refreshing to hear that the contemporary art scene in Japan is flourishing through the support of foundations, and cultural institutions. What is more enlightening is the openness and participation of Filipino artists, curators and students in engaging and contributing to the growing discussion of the nature of contemporary art in Japan and vice versa.  I not only find this important, but crucial in the formation of how further studies in curation may better serve its audience for a more progressive contemporary art engagement amongst artistic communities in Asia.


– Lian Ladia, 2012.


Lian Ladia is an independent curator, writer and Co-founder of  She is interested in project-oriented or idea-based practices and methodologies in art communities and alternative spaces. She has an undergrad in Philosophy at DLSU and Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute, completed curatorial residencies in Manila and Berlin and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Art Theory and Criticism at the University of the Philippines.