This is where the goal posts shift to the beneficiaries and how, when accrued, several individual purchases can go long, several ways for a long time.
When one of the greatest discoveries this month is that Gcash accounts for charity can, in fact, be maxed out, the use of First Edition may become harder to measure. Simply put, why split between causes and something comparably smaller when there are larger, more pressing issues that rightly demand an undivided pocket? Recall here any grievances with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: if you’re not swimming in cash, why spend on art at all? Conversely, why create it?
Had this been written a month ago, before the onslaught of typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, this would have turned out far differently. First Edition is a fundraiser, yes, though we hesitate to say it belongs to a network of mutual aid. It might be more appropriate to think of it as a form of “mutual access,” through which a print run was something we decided on early.
Prints allow for drastically lower price points. This gives people the chance to own art, despite how original works can be five times more expensive, and without detriment to the dignity attached to the artist’s labor. But the project wasn’t to give people purchase into a relationship with art understood as top-down. If taste were left to a few, several forms of art may not matter.
Taste left alone, meanwhile, wouldn’t do much for the compromises most artists are left with; taking the odd job, resorting to more palatable subjects, and many others you see happening now.
First Edition is about providing options. Casting a wide net through prints was to consider another relationship altogether, to have art passed around and buttress the support of art practices in general, burgeoning or no, by bidding all these pursuits to continue, and for the sake of the good that may come out of it after.
That’s the belief behind the communal artist fund: while the artist keeps half the profit from each purchase of his or her print, an additional 20% of profit pools into a shared pot for all other artists in the group. A similar principle is in curator Ricky Francisco’s roster, where a good amount of its proceeds goes to fundraising for a fine art thesis production grant, alongside typhoon relief.
Taste is thought of as a matter of preference; these days, it ought to resemble more closely a system of priorities. This is where the goal posts shift to the beneficiaries and how several individual purchases, when accrued, can go long, several ways for a long time.
For the Indigenous Communities
For curator Francisco Lee’s solo showcase of the elusive artist, Jimbo Santos, and Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan, 30% of their rosters’ profits go to the Lumad Bakwit school camped in the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
The Bakwit school currently houses and teaches about 85 Lumad refugees, who have been forced to flee from the increasing militarization in Mindanao. When Martial Law in Mindanao had elapsed in the last minute of 2019, military camps and covert activity remained. Forcible school closures continue. As reported last September by Rappler, of the 216 Lumad schools documented in Mindanao in July 2016, only 38 remain as of their September 2020 report.
At the start of the pandemic, the government implemented a “no visitor policy” on the Bakwit schools, rendering food, medicinal supplements, as well as cleaning supplies impossible for them to acquire. The mother beneficiary, the Save Our Schools Network, issued an urgent appeal. A day later, the comments section was riddled with baseless accusations of red-tagging.
The call was picked up and disseminated by the longstanding activist group, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, who would be accused of red-tagging as well a few months after and in a tellingly similar way. Proceeds from Gwen Bautista’s roster shall benefit CAP and the initiatives the organization supports.
One of the three beneficiaries under Cartellino’s Picks is LILAK’s (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) BABAYEnihan initiative, as arranged through the Lakambini. LILAK, first organized in 2011, is an organization comprising indigenous women leaders, feminists, human rights advocates, anthropologists, environmentalists, and lawyers committed to advocating the struggle for indigenous women’s rights. The BABAYEnihan initiative, begun in response to the pandemic, is an ongoing donation drive to provide 38 IP communities access to health services and basic supplies.
For Healthcare and Well-Being
Another beneficiary under Cartellino’s Picks is the same cause of the Viber art auction group, Art Rocks. This is St. Luke’s Medical Center, Institute of Urology (SLMC). While SLMC also hosts its own events and conventions to provide aid to indigent patients, Art Rocks remains — to this day — one of the principal sources of SLMC’s charity division. Aside from hospital fees, proceeds from Art Rocks also benefit trainees of medical education at SLMC.
Other organizations include Stickers for Food PH, the beneficiary of the urban art group CVTY Collective. Especially in spirit, Stickers for Food PH and First Edition are similar. As the name suggests, it’s a collaborative fundraising project by a core team of five people, who held an open call for artist volunteers to make food-themed stickers to help PAGASA (People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action) deliver food to families who lost their livelihoods.
The selected beneficiary for Jaime Pacena II’s IMPRINTS, meanwhile, is the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC). For 35 years, the CRC has been providing psychosocial services to children through a grass-roots and family-centered approach to rehabilitation. The children and their families are victims of state violence; included are those arising from armed conflict, natural disasters, and sexual abuse.
For the longest time, the CRC has been the sole provider of psychosocial help to children who underwent traumatic experiences. Psychosocial help now comes through AKAP Pamilya’s Remember Love Project, founded in 2017, which works within a human security framework—covering humanitarian, psycho-social, medical and health, educational, livelihood and legal assistance to children who lost one or both parents to the ongoing “War on Drugs.”
Cartellino’s First Edition: Artist Print Cooperative ends today, at exactly 11:59pm. Just as there were fundraisers before it, there will be fundraisers after. Some invariably to better effect. We’re still learning, but we’re more than thankful for the artists, curators, and beneficiaries who put their trust in us, just as we are thankful that this was our first step.