Halsema AX(is) Project : Kawayan De Guia in collaboration with AX(is)
Anyone who has traveled from Baguio to Sagada would be familiar with the old Dangwa Bus. Up to about a few years ago, the rickety non-airconditioned buses, some with wooden high-backed seats regularly plied the Halsema Highway. Often crammed with passengers and cargo, it departs from the equally old-style Dangwa terminal in downtown Baguio early in the morning and arrives in Sagada around seven hours after, depending on weather and road conditions.
In Kawayan de Guia’s latest installation, the old Dangwa bus is re-purposed as the vehicle for AX(i)S, a collective force, which he initiated with other young artists in Baguio last year. In the same spirit as the early Baguio Art Festivals in the 1990s, it is a convergence of artists from different fields who seek to re-activate art in the public sphere. For the exhibition at MO_space, documentation of the works and happenings at last year’s AX(i)S festival will be projected inside a bus made from the festival tent, which had been patched together using ukay-ukay clothes. Scattered around on the floor are smaller assemblages of found objects that form roadside shrines. The exhibition is a prelude to another AX(i)S project this coming November wherein artists will be creating various works along the stretch of Halsema Highway. Supported by the Cordilleran Green Network, the project addresses diverse issues ranging from nature, nomadism, travel, connectivity, collaboration, and environmental impact.
As one of the drivers of AX(i)S, Kawayan seeks detours and alternate routes to a more expansive yet deeply-rooted way of art-making and culture-bearing. In this exhibition, the bus, tent, used clothes and other salvaged objects are not only used as contemporary emblems of the Northern way of life; they also represent the resiliency of independent artists’ communities despite the current impasses in the local art scene.