news, project Abstract Art and Urban Poors Metro Manila 2016

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Project supported by:
Nicolas Ciarlone, Peoples’ Solidarity and Education Tours (PSET), and Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY)

Summary of the project

During one week of June 2016, French artist Nicolas Ciarlone painted several murals in different places of San Roque, an urban poor aera of Metro Manila. The project, conducted with the help of Filipino cultural organizations Peoples‟ Solidarity and Education Tours (PSET) and Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), aims to both bring abstract art to San Roque inhabitants and draw attention on the struggle of San Roque people against the demolition threat they have to face. The abstract design of the paintings echoes the one of railway and motorway networks, and it is a nod migration and to the huge urbanization process, by which our cities grow, live, occupy space and generate poverty, inequalities and discrimination.

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The aim of this project is to support the inhabitants of the San Roque in their struggle against the scheduled demolition of their neighborhood, due to a private and governmental project which aims to turn the place in a new business and commuting center. By showing that this place, threaten to become a „non place‟, is actually at the heart of numerous activities and struggles for its living, the project an invitation to consider the meaning of current growing of our megalopolises and their infrastructures, in relation with citizens who try to make a living and to defend their Right to the City. On the Sunday June 26th, the temporary art exhibition had its one day public reception. More than thirty people from outside San Roque came and experience a tour in the urban poor area, following an itinerary punctuated with mural paintings and installations, discussions with the inhabitants who were invited to the event.

Welcome to San Roque

San Roque is one of the numerous urban poor area located in Quezon City, a part of Metro Manila, where over six millions of poor people are trying to make a living. Like most of the urban poor areas of Manila, San Roque has no legal status. Hundreds of Filipino poor families are living there, in very precarious living conditions. People from all over the Philippine are piling in cubocubo, small houses made of everything, mirroring the patchwork of languages, culinary and religious habits of the San Roque inhabitants. They are precarious workers, as tricycle drivers, construction workers or street vendors; they represent an abundant and cheap workforce, paid between 200 and 400 Peso per day (4 to 8 Euros). San Roque symbolizes the huge wealth inequalities as the internal migration to the city, both resulting from the huge urbanization process which is happening in the Philippines. As many other urban poor areas of Metro Manila, San Roque represents the growing poverty resulting from neo liberalism policies and corruption problems which are undermining the Filipino society.

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People living in San Roque are constantly facing a major threat: the demolition warlord. The land where they living on, originally the property of the municipality of Quezon City, has been sold to one of the richest family of the Philippines, the Ayala, which is also one of the most politically influent. By doing so, the project is to build a business center, a commuting center and towers of condominiums instead of San Roque. Because of occupating the land over 20 years, San Roque should have been now the legal property of its inhabitants. A relocation plan has been set up which allows the volunteers families to leave San Roque in exchange of some money. But the place where they are relocated is far away in the northern periphery of Metro Manila, without any school or hospital facilities. A struggle is on now and people of San Roque are getting organized to protect their living hood against violence, corruption and demolition warlords. The Ayala, supported by the government, is hiring private security guards in the slum, to prevent any new construction. The final demolition is scheduled for September 2016.

Art Against Demolition

The aim of the “NonPlace” project is to use art as a political and an educational tool, in order to support the struggle for the inhabitants of San Roque in their legitimate fight for a living hood – and beyond to draw attention to the situation of the situation of the numerous urban poor areas in Metro Manila. The core of the project is a reflection about the excessive urbanization process of our contemporary cities, which reveals huge inequalities and discriminations. It also question the way that our city politics deal with the life of thousand of urban poor people and their relegation in some peripheral areas of the city, been chase away by the development of the city infrastructure and commuting systems. With the help of PSET and KADAMAY, nongovernmental and nonprofit Filipino cultural organizations, and September 23 Movement, from the inhabitant of San Roque against demolition, French artist Nicolas Ciarlone was able to stay during one week in the San Roque urban poor area, meeting the political leaders to discuss the project, and get in touch with local supporters of the non demolition movement. During this week, he painted several mural paintings in different places in the urban poor area, set up drawing activities for the children and discussing with the inhabitant about the issue of the demolition.

Using the slum as a contemporary art gallery was the first challenge of the one week residence of Nicolas Ciarlone, which has led to the realization of seven mural painting in different locations of San Roque, selecting the walls to paint in consultation with the inhabitants, and primarily on places which has been already demolished, and where the inhabitant are forbidden to rebuild. The abstract design of paintings echoes the one of railway and motorway networks, a nod to the circulation and the speed by which cities grow and develop, and aims to entails a reflection on urban migration, urbanization process and urban saturation, by which our cities are occupying space and generating poverty and inequalities.

The “Non Places” project wants to put the spotlight on the struggle of the San Roque inhabitants against the demolition process, by bringing art in the urban poor area, abstract paintings which symbolically represent the threat of demolition to build a business district and a commuting center instead of the San Roque area. By showing geometrical shapes saturated by commuting networks, Nicolas Ciarlone‟ work entails a reflection on the interactions between the flow and the movement of our megalopolis and their inhabitants, and especially the poorest ones who are directly facing the consequences of these processes, and who‟s voice has been so far unheard.

The temporary exhibition had its public reception on June Sunday 26th; Sunday June 26th, San Roque, Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines. We are now actively seeking for some promotional partners, in order to give move visibility to this project and, thence, to the current living conditions of San Roque inhabitants.



Nicolas Ciarlone
Fascinated by rail lines and motorway networks, French artist Nicolas Ciarlone has put these at the very heart of his work. By doing so, he is providing a reflection of our contemporary metropolises, on the excessive nature of their commuting flows and on the increasing high speed by which men, goods and ideas are circulating. This landscapes of networks shows off the grandeur and excesses of our industrial revolutions, and it limitless urbanisation. In a minimalist and a saturated style, their apparent familiarity is getting lost in an abstract composition that reveals their organic aspects, their exotic and vernacular motifs. By an abstract style akin to aerial mapping, he highlights both the absurdity and beauty of these monumental engineering structures, inviting to a submersion in these universes made of networks, revealing the purity and lightness of this utilitarian architecture made of steel and concrete.

More about Nicolas Ciarlone

One Response to " Abstract Art and Urban Poors Metro Manila 2016 "

  1. Alya khemji says:

    very inspirinig post. keep writing to bring hidden talents in world.

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