KAPITAL: A Tribute to Labor

 

UP Vargas Museum, UP Diliman campus

 

Posted: August 19, 2010

 

 

 

A number of prominent artists who were and some of them still part of the Social Realist Movement came together to come up with a timely art show, KAPITAL, that mainly talks about how kapital in the Marxian sense becomes root of exploitation. It features new and old works by Leonilo Doloricon, Renato Habulan, Adi Baensantos, Biboy Delotavo, Boy D., Ed Manalo, Egai Roxas, Egai Fernandez, Mideo Cruz and some representations from the younger generation, Eshei Mensina, Max Baluyut and other members of the UgatLahi Artists Collective.

 

--- Note by Roselle Pineda
 

   
   
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January 30, 1971

MESSAGE OF JOSE MARIA SISON, KABATAANG MAKABAYAN FOUNDING CHAIRMAN,

TO NAGKAKAISANG PROGRESIBONG ARTISTA-ARKITEKTO
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(Read at the First National Congress and workshop of Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista-Arkitekto, NPA, on August 7-8, 1971, at the ALEC Hall, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.)

The Visual Arts as a Weapon of Revolution

ON THE PART of every activists in the national democratic movement and the entire people, the First National Conference and Workshop of the Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista-Arkitekto is an exceedingly happy occasion. It is a significant moment for analyzing and summing up all your previous efforts in wielding and perfecting the visual arts as a weapon of revolution. It is also a significant moment for selecting graphic models to emulate and setting forth new tasks, both political and aesthetic, in your militant participation in the great struggle for national democracy against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

We are well aware of your important role in the revolutionary struggle. What an essay will at great length explain, a single wall poster will. Therefore, you have very sharp weapon. Moreover, so many people can at the same time look at that wall poster and immediately understand what you mean. Therefore, you have a very powerful weapon capable of moving the masses. Your art enriches the mind and quickens the body for the revolution. You have a great and indispensable role in the national democratic revolution, in both its political and cultural aspects. You are definitely in the vanguard of the national democratic cultural revolution of a new type.

Create and Uphold Art for the Masses

What do we mean by national democratic cultural revolution of new type in the field of art? It means overthrowing the art of the exploiting classes which is promoted by U.S. imperialism and its running dogs. It means building up a new kind of art that serves the people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants, in their revolutionary struggle. It means affirming the revolutionary leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard. It is the depiction of the masses of workers, peasants and Red fighters as the real heroes and makers of history. It is the casting away of the old selfish types of bourgeois and feudal heroes; it is the projection of the revolutionary type of workers, peasants and Red fighters. Among art workers, constant efforts are exerted to remould themselves so as to become better and more effective servants of the people and revolution.

There is no such thing as "pure art", "art for art's sake", "art for the sake of universal humanism", "art for nothing's sake" or "art for personal reasons". To obscure the revolutionary task of art is to fall into the trap of the reactionaries, in the field of art and outside it. There is no escape, in the final analysis. In this regard, any piece of art bears the stamp of a definite class. To raise your ideological and political consciousness and carry forward your aesthetic efforts, you must make a living study and application of Chairman Mao's Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art and several more of his works on culture. Grasp the truth that proletarian politics is in command of revolutionary aesthetics.

The wall poster is as sharp and as powerful as the slogan that the wordsmith mints. But this is not the only art form available to you, although emphasis has been correctly put on it for obvious reasons. Our guiding revolutionary ideology impels us to seize so many other art forms from the class enemy and even to create new forms suitable to the furtherance of the revolutionary struggle. You are expected today to discuss the multiforms of art and how to put them into the service of the people and revolution.

You have achieved a certain level of development in terms of skills and style and also in terms of political content. Keep on advancing daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, indefinitely because there is no end to revolution in society as well as in art.

We extend to you all the best wishes and support for your plans. We share your hopes of winning more victories in the battlefield of art and arousing more people for the national democratic revolution.

Create and uphold art for the masses! Hold high the red banner of the revolution! Fan the flames of the national democratic revolution of a new type! Long live the Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista-Arkitekto!

JOSE MA. SISON
Founding Chairman
KABATAANG MAKABAYAN


 

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano

Photos of exhibit launching courtesy of Roselle Pineda

     

CMC Dean Rolando Tolentinoi

 

Former Fine Arts Dean Leonilo Doloricon,

organizer and curatori

 

           

 

Elegy and eulogy to workers

Written by Alice G. Guillermo / Sightings   

TUESDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2010 11:13

 

A MODERN economy is built on contradiction: capital and labor; capital, the glittering high-rise offices in the urban jungle which command the worldwide production and exchange of goods, and labor, the slums which daily disgorge a veritable flood of workers to man the machines or climb the scaffoldings of the ever-aspiring towers.

 

The results of their labor are visible everywhere, from humble comestibles to finely crafted baubles and to gilded mansions of the wealthy, but they themselves who produce these are invisible and, at the end of the day, disappear into the dark alleys and hovels to stretch out their limbs for a dreamless sleep.

 

Now, the Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in its present show, Kapital: Tribute to Labor, seeks to make the worker visible. And capital, instead of the vast amounts of money circulated all over the world, as it is commonly understood, is its opposite: capital as labor and manpower, the means of production without which the structure would fall apart and cease to be. Participating in the show are the first-generation social realists, such as Pablo Baens Santos, Antipas Delotavo, Neil Doloricon, Jose Tence Ruiz and Edgar Fernandez with Nena Gajudo; with second-generation social realists Chitoy Zapata, Mideo Cruz, Boy Dominguez, Iggy Rodriguez and members of the youngest generation only too eager to take up the cause. As it deals with reversals and the giddying instabilities of the ship of state, it is a particularly lively and engrossing show enriched with all manner of styles and mediums.

 

Antipas Delotavo has a moving, iconic image of the worker, simple and light of mien with the shadow of a smile. But a group of five or six is interspersed with target boards showing their numbered concentric circles. They stand still, for any false move would render them open to immediate peril, as heavy firearms crisscross above their heads. There is a contrast between the human frame and its transcendent capacities for thinking and feeling, and the firearms mechanical and inhuman but with a built-in antagonism to the shape and odors of the body fabric. The painting, however, has a quiet, almost sweet, solemnity that proceeds from an intimate knowledge of the subject.

 

Another first-generation artist, Santos, who has kept to himself for a considerable period of time, now unravels his new artistic capabilities which he seems to have hidden beneath his sleeve.

 

After his brilliant Monkeys in Session, he comes up with Labor and Monkey Business, in which he works in a large space with a rather complicated and many-layered composition to accommodate groups of opposing characters all engaged in their particular activities, such as climbing and swinging on ropes and ladders, or stepping in formations.

 

 

The mood of the work is jocular and satiric—not of the workers but of the system itself in which opposing forces interact, bringing out clumsy and awkward interactions. There are not only the figures of labor and capital, but also the military and coercive forces on the side of capital always readying themselves to pounce on the least infraction of labor. His exceptional use of space, full of swinging movement and rhythms, combined with the unusual use of bright colors, is quite different from his earlier monochromatic works with their unilateral driving energy.

 

Doloricon makes strong allusions to women overseas contract workers (OCWs) in The Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs. It is implied that the space which several characters occupy is not unified but multilayered, an intersection of places and cultures. The tone of the painting is quietly sad: the goose that lays the golden eggs is the female OCW who has lost control over her life abroad but continues to work in order to put food on the table of her family in the Philippines. Her nude figure implies that she has fallen into prostitution through the machinations of her employer who coerces her into submission.  This is the fate of many OCWs which their families here may not know.

 

Dominguez, who has always promoted the cause of indigenous peoples, has an intensely moving painting in which the indigenous Mother Earth grieves at the destruction of the Earth. The growing seedlings have turned into unnatural plants because of genetic modification; in their depths they show tiny machines and gadgets that interfere with their growth and render them toxic and dangerous for human consumption. Also remarkable and related in theme is Iggy Rodriguez’s pen-and-ink work showing a Crucified Christ choked amid a jungle of skyscrapers.

 

The very obverse of the system is exposed by Ruiz in his Blu-Skreen Outpost, in which the neutral and technical title serves to mediate the horror of the scene, contemporary and Philippines. The subject, a jeepney, once lauded for its virtues as a popular means of transport, has been disemboweled into a carcass in form with ribs sticking out of its convoluted gray frame against a blue background. It is hardly recognizable as the vehicle that once evoked sentimentality as part of the Filipino identity. Now what remains of its original iconography are the three chrome horses that once proudly adorned its hood, an allusion to earlier modes of public transportation. Below its heavy frame is a withered corpse of a woman lying outstretched with one arm pleading for mercy.

 

Much of this show is elegy, a sense of sorrow for Filipino workers with their never-ending ordeals, but it is also a eulogy for their tenacity and courage.

 

     
     
           
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KAPITAL: PAINTINGS ON EXHIBIT

   
     
Renato Habulan Pablo Baen Santos: LABOR AND MONEKY BUSINESS
           

 

August 7, 1971

MESSAGE OF JOSE MARIA SISON, KABATAANG MAKABAYAN FOUNDING CHAIRMAN

TO PAKSA ON THE TASKS OF CADRES IN THE
--------------------------------------------------------------
CULTURAL FIELD
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(Read at the First National Congress of Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan, PAKSA, December 18-19, 1971, Gonzales Hall, University of the Philippines, Quezon City)

THE CONFERENCE THEME, "Literature and the Mass Line", is well chosen. It manifest the distinctive character of PAKSA as a progressive and patriotic organization of writers, critics, teachers and students of literature, truly determined to serve the people.

To Serve the People is the Single Most Important Task

The single most important task of cadres in the cultural field is to serve the people. As the great Lu Hsun put it in a couplet:

Fierce-browed, I cooly defy a thousand pointing fingers, Head-bowed, like a willing ox I serve the children.

To serve the people now is to perform a definite role on the revolutionary struggle for national democracy against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The cultural revolution is a distinct yet integral part of the revolutionary mass movement. Without the preparation of public opinion, there can be no revolution. In the course of the national democratic revolution, cultural work is always necessary to heighten the fighting spirit of the revolutionary masses.

Chairman Mao teaches us, "Revolutionary culture is a powerful revolutionary weapon for the broad masses of the people. It prepares the ground ideologically before the revolution comes and is an important, indeed essential, fighting front in the general revolutionary front during the revolution."

Chairman Mao points out, "All our literature and art are for the masses of the people, and in the first place for the workers, peasants and soldiers; they are created for the workers, peasants and soldiers and are for their use."

Cadres in the cultural field are like commanders who lead cultural battalions - the masses in their thousands, tens of thousands and millions. The audience for revolutionary literary and art work is incalculable. A stage performance or an exhibit can be repeated so many times that it is extremely difficult to keep count of the audience. The printing capacity of a press may be limited but a good literary work nevertheless gets passed from hand to hand and discussed without end. If our cultural work truly serves the people, our readers and audience are inevitably aroused and become a tremendous force for the revolution. The theme of this congress thereby becomes a material force in the same manner that a battlecry does in the field of combat.

We must always remember that the people will not be aroused and mobilized unless the literary and artistic work is drawn from their lives, particularly from their needs and aspirations. We bring to a higher plane the actions and thinking of the revolutionary masses so as to inspire them further to destroy and triumph over the enemy. The heroes that emerge from our work should be the people themselves and their superlative representatives who are tempered in the crucible of the revolution. The revolutionary struggle should be the essence of the organic unity of a literary or artistic work.

Chairman Mao teaches us, "(Our purpose is) to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind".

Inasmuch as culture is the reflection of economics and politics, literature and art are the finest and most sensitive ideological forms for summing up social reality. We can create revolutionary literature and art only by carefully and meticulously keeping to the revolutionary stand, viewpoint and method of that class which leads the broad masses of the people in the life-and-death struggle between progress and reaction.

It is a bounden duty for revolutionary men of culture to be partisan to the leading revolutionary class, the proletariat, and to oppose the reactionary classes, the big bourgeoisie and the landlord class. Chairman Mao teaches us, "In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause; they are, as Lenin said, cogs and wheels in the whole revolutionary machine."

Remould your Class Outlook and Give Full Play to Criticism

We live in a society that is semi-colonial and semi-feudal. It is inevitable that practically all our cadres in the cultural field have at one time or another been deeply influenced by bourgeois and feudal culture and they continue to be so influenced in varying degrees. The dominant frame of mind among those educated in the present cultural system is bourgeois. In the era of imperialism, particularly in this era when imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is marching toward world victory, the bourgeois mind becomes so fantastic, regressive and desperate that it resorts to feudal mysticism in order to reinforce the most decadent influence of imperial culture and art.

As the revolutionary mass movement becomes stronger and stronger the reactionaries also deliberately allow the spread of social- democratic or revisionist literature in an attempt to infect our cadres with fears of revolutionary wars and nuclear weapons and with the philosophy of survival and capitulation.

It is the task of our cadres in the cultural field to keep on remoulding their class outlook. They must firmly combat all erroneous ideas and their own selfish tendencies with the lucid ideology of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism, and integrate themselves with the masses in the practical revolutionary movement. Chairman Mao teaches us, "Our literature and art workers must accomplish this task and shift their stand; they must gradually move their feet over to the side of the workers, peasants and soldiers, to the side of the proletariat, through the process of going into their very midst and into the thick of practical struggles and through the process of studying Marxism and society.

Only in this way can we have a literature and art that are truly for the workers, peasants and soldiers, a truly proletarian literature and art."

It is an important task to undertake study sessions and seminars. Thoroughly study Chairman Mao's "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art" as a comprehensive programme; his three great works on the rectification movement which precede all other articles in the Philippine selection entitled On Party Building; and, of course, the_________ Philippine selection entitled On Culture. Get hold of literary models in the great proletarian revolutionary tradition of Gorky and Lu Hsun and those literary models popularized in the course of China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Find out how past and contemporary literary and art works stand in the light of the world achievements of proletarian literature and art.

It is an important task to be in the midst of the revolutionary mass movement. In the course of participating in the revolutionary struggles of the workers and peasants, our cadres in the cultural field will gain knowledge that they can never gain from textbooks alone. To conduct social investigation in the course of practical struggles is to gather the best material for a truly significant literature and art. One cannot write of the workers, peasants and soldiers without knowing them intimately.

Among the cultural workers, there is always enough practical and concrete basis for study and for criticism and self-criticism. The literary and artistic work that are created by them are subject to analysis and criticism. These are always subject to improvement. While the most advanced should be good at uniting with the less advanced cultural workers, who are willing to unite with us on the general line of the national democratic revolution, it should always be the task of the former to persuade the latter to further remould their outlook. Persuasion is our principal method of struggle with them.

We have no fear of criticism because our end is always to serve the people and therefore we must always be ready to give them the best that we can. Among our comrades and our friends we must have that ox-like modesty that Lu Hsun found appropriate to picture in his couplet. To the enemy, however, we are fierce and we must not show the least sign of obsequiousness.

Chairman Mao teaches us:

"In literary and art criticism there are two criteria, the political and the artistic...

There is the political criterion and there is the artistic criterion; what is the relationship between the two? Politics cannot be equated with art, nor can a general world outlook be equated with a method of artistic creation and criticism. We deny not only that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable political criterion, but also that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable artistic criterion; each class in every class society has its own political and artistic criteria. But all classes in all class societies invariably put the political criterion first and the artistic criterion second... What we demand is the unity of politics and arts, the unity of content and form, the unity of revolutionary political content and the highest possible perfection in artistic form. Works of art which lack artistic quality have no force, however progressive they are politically. Therefore, we oppose both works of art with a wrong political viewpoint and the tendency towards the
"poster and slogan style" which is correct in political viewpoint but lacking in artistic power. On questions of literature and art we must carry on a struggle on two fronts."

It is not enough to undertake criticism and self-criticism only among fellow craftsmen. Though it is necessary for those who have an interest in the same field of work to have a union, cultural workers should avoid restricting themselves to the guild mentality of the petty bourgeoisie in medieval times. We should make it a task to encourage criticism of our works by the masses. After a cultural performance or art exhibit, we should invite the audience to submit their critical remarks and suggestions for improvement. In our publications, we should also regularly call for these. Even before a piece of literary or artistic work is put out, certain efforts can be made to consult the masses or their representatives.

To provide an example of self-criticism, I wish to take this opportunity to criticize and repudiate before this group of writers as well as before the general public (since this article is to be mimeographed at least) the entire collection, Brothers with the exception of only five or six poems. The bulk of the poems cannot pass the test of proletarian revolutionary criticism. Though the collection was compiled in 1961 as properly indicated, it is bound to create erroneous influence without this repudiation. I hope that with this repudiation I shall be able to write better poems.

Infuse Revolutionary Class Content into Various Forms of Literature

It is appropriate to refer to the various forms of literature inasmuch as this article is presented before a group of writers, critics, teachers and students of literature. In this regard, we must be conscious of the task of infusing revolutionary class content into the various forms of literature: the essay, fiction, drama and poetry.

The need for having something to say, a clear ideology and political line, is most obvious in the essay form. There is daily a big pile of articles that may be subsumed under this form. The sheer weight of these in terms of newsprint is truly oppressive, mostly testaments as they are to the false virtues of the enemy. It is in the essay form, however, that the revolutionary mass movement has most expressed itself. It is inevitable that this form will always serve as the most explicit weapon for assaulting the enemy and defending the people.

In fiction, the short story has for quite a long time been the most popular form among Filipino creative writers. The novel form is quite neglected obviously because it requires sustained writing, something that our writers seem not to be able to cope with because they have to copywrite for an advertising firm, clerk in a government office or commercial house, work in a metropolitan newspaper or magazine or teach in a university. Short or long, fiction should be employed by revolutionary writers to serve the people.

Of the various literary forms, drama is the most in demand in the revolutionary mass movement today. The demand is stressed by the scarce quantity and low quality of the plays written for so long a period of time, and, more importantly, by the effectiveness of the drama in arousing and mobilizing the masses. This is a literary form that can be perceived and comprehended by the literate and non-literate masses when it is already staged. It is also a form by which local cultural groups can be most easily organized and by which local acting talents can be coordinated in great numbers. It is an exceedingly important task to write and produce revolutionary drama, one-act or full-length plays.

The zarzuela and comedia or moro-moro are traditional forms of drama that may be adopted by our revolutionary writers. Replace the mawkishness and class reconciliation in the zarzuela with the revolutionary spirit and proletarian standpoint; and foolish love songs with revolutionary songs. Replace the Christian chauvinism and the anti-Muslim line in the comedia or moro-moro with the tenets and values of a people's war waged by a people's army led by the proletarian part; and the thunder and lightning of the medieval crusade with the thunder and lightning of people's war. Of course, it is necessary to give these traditional forms of drama the compactness of modern drama.

There are other indigenous forms which can be as effective as the drama in promoting revolution. These are the balagtasan, the duplo and that indigenous and yet so universal form, poetry that lends itself to singing. These can be performed to precede or serve as intermission numbers when a dramatic presentation is done. These can also be presented exclusively on their own account.

It is worthwhile to go into script-writing for the movies, radio- -TV drama and the comics. It is difficullt to get a revolutionary movie script filmed at the moment because of the technical and financial requirements. But it is relatively easier to turn out comics and to produce drama over the radio. The movies, radio drama and the comics can be turned into our weapons.

It is the overriding task of revolutionary writers to infuse revolutionary class content into the various forms of literature and to make the workers, peasants and revolutionary soldiers the heroes under the red flag of the proletariat.

There should be no more debate concerning what national language to use. We are all committed to using the language of the masses, the language that can be understood throughout the country. It is Pilipino. Enrich this developing language with proletarian revolutionary literature. We must recognize at the same time that the local languages are also the language of the masses and these must also be enriched with proletarian revolutionary literature rather than put aside in our thinking. Instead of ignoring or scorning regional writers for their inability to write in Pilipino, we should encourage them to write proletarian revolutionary literature in the languages they are used to writing in and also persuade them to learn Pilipino so that they can learn not only the language but also the proletarian revolutionary literature already achieved in it.

Popularize Literary Models and Thereby Promote the Upsurge of Revolutionary Literature

The national democratic cultural revolution, under the leadership of the proletariat, has advanced brilliantly. So many writers have come to the forefront in the revolutionary struggle in the cultural field. They have come forward with works into which they have infused revolutionary class content as best as they could.

It is of basic importance to analyze and sum up the concrete situation in the field of literature from one stage to another. The purpose is to improve current literary stock, choose the exemplary works for popularization and set the tasks for raising the quantity and quality of further literary output.

At this stage, it is important for revolutionary writers to band together and make a conscious effort to create and promote literary models. These models should prove that revolutionary class content can be heightened and at the same time aesthetic standards can be raised. We must debunk all arguments of the bourgeoisie that only its ideas and motions can satisfy the demands of the various forms of literature. The best way to do the debunking is to create and promote brilliant proletarian revolutionary literature.

It is our task to make these literary models reach the factories, farms, schools and everywhere else in the country. By doing this, we promote the upsurge of revolutionary literature in our country.

JOSE MA. SISON
Founding Chairman
KABATAANG MAKABAYAN

 

Jose Terence Ruiz
Leonilo Doloricon: THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGG
Renato Habulan: Banaag ng Liwanag #1
Chito Zapata
Leonilo Doloricon: MORONG 43 #18
Kim Oliveros
Manny Garibay: SAKSI
Antipas Delotavo: KOLATERAL
Boy Dominguez: RELASYON
           
Leonilo Doloricon: US DIPLOMACY Egai Talusan Fernandez: PUHUNAN AT TUBO
   
   
   
   

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