Tuesday, December 11, 2007
It wasn't anything that will look flashy in my book. It was a simple act of kindness for a small group of kids who have a life much harder than anyone reading this can imagine. BBDO-GO does work for a group called Childhope Asia, which is a non-profit organization that helps kids who are living on the street. Some have "families" of some sort, but most have nothing close to a stable existence. Last Saturday a group of BBDO employees met the kids and a few adult Childhope volunteers in Rizal Park, and we spent the afternoon doing arts & crafts. We took photos, gave them coloring books & crayons, and then we made these little paper angels. After they were done making the angels they were told to write a wish of something they'd like to have on the back of the angels, and the plan was to get these things for the kids as Christmas presents. Many of us thought they would write things like "I want a toy truck," or "I want a Barbie doll." It turns out many wrote about wanting to have their families back together for Christmas, or just wanting to HAVE a family. Things that we could not do. So that part was kind of heartbreaking, but the most important thing was that we did something that made the kids smile, even if it was just for a few hours. I can't think of a better memory to end my journey with.
This is my last post. The purpose of this blog was not to be a continuing, living entity, but a record of "a moment in time." These 10 weeks in Manila was my Temporary Autonomous Zone, and now it is over. If I continue to embrace the unknown and reject conventional thought there will be many others. To anyone reading this, I hope you enjoyed some of the thoughts and actions documented here. Don't live in fear.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Part 3 of 3
I know that you have come here today to hear explanations. Well, don't expect to hear any explanations about Dada. You explain to me why you exist. You haven't the faintest idea. You will say: I exist to make my children happy. But in your hearts you know that isn't so. You will say: I exist to guard my country, against barbarian invasions. That's a fine reason. You will say: I exist because God wills. That's a fairy tale for children. You will never be able to tell me why you exist but you will always be ready to maintain a serious attitude about life. You will never understand that life is a pun, for you will never be alone enough to reject hatred, judgments, all these things that require such an effort, in favor of a calm level state of mind that makes everything equal and without importance.
Dada is not at all modern. It is more in the nature of a return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference. Dada covers things with an artificial gentleness, a snow of butterflies released from the head of a prestidigitator. Dada is immobility and does not comprehend the passions. You will call this a paradox, since Dada is manifested only in violent acts. Yes, the reactions of individuals contaminated by destruction are rather violent, but when these reactions are exhausted, annihilated by the Satanic insistence of a continuous and progressive "What for?" what remains, what dominates is indifference. But with the same note of conviction I might maintain the contrary.
Dada is here, there and a little everywhere, such as it is, with its faults, with its personal differences and distinctions which it accepts and views with indifference. We are often told that we are incoherent, but into this word people try to put an insult that it is rather hard for me to fathom. Everything is incoherent.
Dada is a state of mind. That is why it transforms itself according to races and events. Dada applies itself to everything, and yet it is nothing, it is the point where the yes and the no and all the opposites meet, not solemnly in the castles of human philosophies, but very simply at street corners, like dogs and grasshoppers.
Like everything in life, Dada is useless.
Dada is without pretension, as life should be.
Perhaps you will understand me better when I tell you that Dada is a virgin microbe that penetrates with the insistence of air into all the spaces that reason has not been able to fill with words or conventions.
Part 2 of 3-
I say unto you: there is no beginning and we do not tremble, we are not sentimental. We are a furious Wind, tearing the dirty linen of clouds and prayers, preparing the great spectacle of disaster, fire, decomposition.* We will put an end to mourning and replace tears by sirens screeching from one continent to another. Pavilions of intense joy and widowers with the sadness of poison. Dada is the signboard of abstraction; advertising and business are also elements of poetry.
Science disgusts me as soon as it becomes a speculative system, loses its character of utility-that is so useless but is at least individual. I detest greasy objectivity, and harmony, the science that finds everything in order. Carry on, my children, humanity . . . Science says we are the servants of nature: everything is in order, make love and bash your brains in. Carry on, my children, humanity, kind bourgeois and journalist virgins . . . I am against systems, the most acceptable system is on principle to have none.
The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of an art, but of a disgust. Disgust with the magnificence of philosophers who for 3000 years have been explaining everything to us (what for? ), disgust with the pretensions of these artists-God's-representatives-on-earth, disgust with passion and with real pathological wickedness where it was not worth the bother; disgust with a false form of domination and restriction *en masse*, that accentuates rather than appeases man's instinct of domination, disgust with all the catalogued categories, with the false prophets who are nothing but a front for the interests of money, pride, disease, disgust with the lieutenants of a mercantile art made to order according to a few infantile laws, disgust with the divorce of good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly (for why is it more estimable to be red rather than green, to the left rather than the right, to be large or small?). Disgust finally with the Jesuitical dialectic which can explain everything and fill people's minds with oblique and obtuse ideas without any physiological basis or ethnic roots, all this by means of blinding artifice and ignoble charlatans promises.
As Dada marches it continuously destroys, not in extension but in itself. From all these disgusts, may I add, it draws no conclusion, no pride, no benefit. It has even stopped combating anything, in the realization that it's no use, that all this doesn't matter. What interests a Dadaist is his own mode of life. But here we approach the great secret.
Every product of disgust capable of becoming a negation of the family is Dada;
a protest with the fists of its whole being engaged in destructive action: Dada;
knowledge of all the means rejected up until now by the shamefaced sex of comfortable compromise and good manners: Dada;
abolition of logic, which is the dance of those impotent to create: Dada;
of every social hierarchy and equation set up for the sake of values by our valets: Dada;
every object, all objects, sentiments, obscurities, apparitions and the precise clash of parallel lines are weapons for the fight: Dada;
abolition of memory: Dada;
abolition of archaeology: Dada;
abolition of prophets: Dada;
abolition of the future: Dada;
absolute and unquestionable faith in every god that is the immediate product of spontaneity: Dada.
The Dada movement was a protest against the barbarism of World War I, the bourgeois interests that Dada adherents believed inspired the war, and what they believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society. Dada was an international movement, and it is difficult to classify artists as being from any one particular country, as they were constantly moving from one place to another.
Dada thought that reason and logic had led people into the horrors of war, so the only route to salvation was to reject logic and embrace anarchy and irrationality. However, this could also be thought of as the logical side of anarchy and rejection of values and order; it is not irrational to embrace the systematic destruction of values, if one thinks them to be flawed.
According to its proponents, Dada was not art - it was "anti-art". It was anti-art in the sense that Dadaists protested against the contemporary academic and cultured values of art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art were to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strove to have no meaning - interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada is to offend. Ironically, Dada became an influential movement in modern art, a commentary on order and the carnage Dadaists believed it wreaked. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics they hoped to destroy them.
A reviewer from the American Art News stated at the time that "The Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man." Art historians have described Dada as being, in large part, "in reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide."
Years later, Dada artists described the movement as "a phenomenon bursting forth in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster, which would lay waste to everything in its path. It was a systematic work of destruction and demoralization...In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege."
While broad, the movement was unstable. By 1924 in Paris, Dada was melding into surrealism, and artists had gone on to other ideas and movements, including surrealism, social realism and other forms of modernism. Some theorists argue that Dada was actually the beginning of postmodern art.
By the dawn of World War II, many of the European Dadaists had fled or emigrated to the United States. Some died in death camps under Hitler, who persecuted the kind of "Degenerate art" that Dada represented. The movement became less active as post-World War II optimism led to new movements in art and literature.
Dada is a named influence and reference of various anti-art and political and cultural movements including the Lettrists and the Situationists.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Holy shit. In the past month, I've experienced a deadly explosion at a mall, a political assassination via bomb attack, a typhoon, an earthquake, and today, an attempt to overthrow the Philippines' government. The Coup attempt was made by a senator and a general who were on trial today for ANOTHER coup attempt they had in 2003. So they just walked right out of the courtroom and proceeded to take over a posh hotel just 3 blocks from where I work. Imagine waking up in the morning and saying to yourself "Today is the day I'm going to overthrow the government." It's actually a pretty attractive thing to dream about, but this guy took it to the proverbial "next level." Here's CNN's take on it:
MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Dramatically played out on live television, an opposition politician and rebel military officers surrendered to government forces after taking over a luxury hotel in Manila.
"We're going out for the sake of the safety of everybody," Philippines Sen. Antonio Trillanes said.
The senator made the decision to give up after the military peppered the inside of the hotel with tear gas. Live pictures from inside the hotel showed reporters and rebel soldiers covering their faces.
An armored vehicle was also seen firing into the lobby of Manila's Peninsula hotel and later rammed through the front entrance of the building.
"The situation is contained within the Peninsula hotel, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro told CNN.
"The perpetrators are in the process of being arrested." Those who held the hotel were shown being loaded into a Philippine National Police bus.
Teodoro said no one was injured, but Associated Press reported that at least two people were injured.
The standoff began hours earlier when a group led by Trillanes and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim bolted from a court hearing on charges linked to a failed 2003 coup attempt. Video Watch footage of troops storming the hotel in Manila »
"What happened, to me, was clearly either an attempted rebellion or an attempted coup d'etat," Teodoro said.
Philippines military and police personnel had been surrounding the hotel, where the group was asking for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to step down. After Trillanes' announcement, soldiers milled around the outside of the hotel, but the scene had calmed noticeably.
Arroyo had issued orders to the military and police in response to the seizure of the hotel, located in Manila's Makati financial district, journalist Adrian Addison told CNN. Few supporters of the rebels were visible around the Peninsula hotel, Addison said.
Philippine authorities gave the rebel group until 2:30 p.m. (0630 GMT) to allow guests to leave the hotel, and until 3:00 p.m. (0700 GMT) to surrender, the ABS-CBN news service reported.
Businessman Peter Parcel was caught in the middle of the hotel's takeover and subsequent tear-gassing. Listen to the eyewitness in the hotel describe what happened Video
"I couldn't see and couldn't breathe," he said, noting he faced "at least 100 guns" as he exited the hotel.
I got let out of work early because everybody was wondering if full-scale civil war was about to jump off. I immediately went back to my apartment, grabbed my camera, (like any international man of adventure would do) and rolled back out into the street to get pix. It was really weird walking right down the middle of an empty Ayala avenue, which is usually so traffic packed it's impossible to even cross. I could only get so far until the Police barricade which was set up a few hundred yards in front of the Peninsula hotel, where the perps were holed up. After I shot some photos, I walked back to the crib and watched it play out live on CNN, and heard hundreds of bullets being fired outside my balcony. A few hours later, after the rebels surrendered, I walked back by the hotel just as the tanks were rolling out. That was so fucking surreal watching a giant military tank rolling right down the middle of the street. There's a Govt. imposed curfew tonight from midnight-5AM. This shit is gonna make Miami feel even more tame than it already felt, but that's OK. I think I'm about ready for a little bit of tame.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Aren't guns wonderful? I mean, you never know when an angry suit from Proctor & Gamble is gonna go all suicide-bomber and storm the convention center because he's pissed about the pack shot on their latest toothpaste ad. After this photo was taken I asked one of the SWAT guys if I could get a close-up of him putting his gun to the side of my head. He declined. I guess that would've been against his orders.
Anyway, BBDO-GO dominated the awards, winning the agency of the year honors based on a points system determined by the amount of Bronze, Silver, & Gold awards won. BBDO amassed over twice the amount of points as TBWA, who finished second. The next day, a full color photo of the agency appeared on the cover of the "Philippine Daily Inquirer." The guys also graciously invited me to be in the photo which will appear on the cover of next month's "Adobo" magazine, which is the biggest Ad industry magazine in the country. I wish I could share the credit for all of it, but the ideas that won all these awards were hatched long before I got here. I'm just happy to be in such good company, and share in the spoils of their success.