Carlos Celdran: Artist Talk @Rolly’s Garage

by Leonard

Carlos Celdran's Artist Talk @Rolly's Garage

Rolly's Garage transforms into Manila, May 22-23

         Posted by ShoZu

Carlos Celdran doing his thing in Manila

Carlos Celdran doing his thing in Manila

At the tail end of a week-long exhibit for the Kilusan Collective, which includes { Alex Felipe } { Ilona Fiddy} { Jeff Garcia } { Jennifer Maramba } { Tiffany Naval Jr }, the lone Manila representative for the Exchange presided over Rolly’s Garage for a low-key talk on all-things-art in Manila and abroad.

Last night at Rolly’s Garage was a rare occasion for Toronto’s burgeoning Filipino Arts Scene — visiting Filipino Artist Carlos Celdran presented examples of his artwork via slideshow presentation to a small but fortunate contingent of dedicated attendees.  This was an occasion to view Carlos’ extensive body of work in advance of his live show, ‘If These Walls Could Talk’ (May 22, 23 also @Rolly’s 124 Ossington).


Opening Night Performance + Reception 
Fri May 22 – 8pm $15

Matinee Performance
Sat May 23 – 3pm PWYC

Performance + Closing Night Party
Sat May 23 – 8pm $15


As mind-blowing as the presented examples were (amidst the undeniably-Torontonian big-ups of ‘SIIIICCK’! coming from one Jeff Garcia), more valuable were the anecdotes coming from an artist whose career spans more than a decade, layovers in 3 countries, experiences with established artists and residencies, semesters at respected institutions and finally a return home — to Manila — his muse and his artistic obsession.  It was here, at home where the idea of doing tours found him.  “Over time, I added the top hat and the music” says Carlos.  “It became performance art.”


Despite the current success of his Walking Tours (he is listed in the Lonely Planet Guide to Manila as a ‘must see’), being known as the ‘Pied Piper of Manila’ has a downside for the artist.  “Every now and then I’ll get weird requests, like someone will ask me if I can take them to Pagsanjan or something” he laughs.  “But if not for this Toronto Art Exchange, my past work would just be sitting there in a box somewhere.”

“I have to really thank Kapisanan actually,” said Carlos after his talk last night.  “This is the first time that my tour is being perceived the way I originally intended — as performance art.  This is really the premiere of this as a theatrical show.”


After his talk, a few of the artists who attended last nights talk stuck around for some one-on-one discussion with the visiting artist.  It’s a chance that we Filipino Canadian artists don’t often get:  to unearth, examine and pay respect to our artistic through-lines and link back to a heritage that we can connect with, re-interpret and remix in our own artistic work.  To not pay respect is to disrespect.

“Carlos Celdran’s obsession with Manila gave me view that I’ve never seen”, said Patrick Estebar.  “Growing up in the Philippines myself, I’ve never seen artwork like his in a country that is very westernized when it comes to everything.  Patrick added, “I’m very happy to have seen art like Carlos Celdran’s.  My personal favourite?  ‘Myths & Legends’.” 

As an observer, I’d say that chatting with Carlos was the most valuable part of the free evening for the attendees — even rarer than the opportunity to examine examples of Filipino art:  the chance to talk and forge connections with an artist who is rooted “back home”.  Chances like these are fleeting but connections and relationships can made can be made to last.  

As evidenced by Carlos’ experiences in the art world, its not only about ‘who you know’ — its also about ‘who knows you’.  The moral?  Be nice.


Carlos himself even opened up the possibility of further cross-oceanic collabos: “Manila in Transitio will be produced every year in February until it becomes a National Holiday,” he said.  “Perhaps the Living Room will see some talented artists from Kapisanan as part of it next year.”  I could easily tell that a lot of the artists present in the room were already itching at the thought.   

As Carlos Celdran says at the end of his Manila tours,

“Manila can be chaotic and spiritual, dirty and divine, gritty and gorgeous all at once. If you don’t find beauty and poetry here, you will never find it anywhere.”

Manila is far, Toronto.  Let’s see the beauty that we’re missing.


—-The Details—-


IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK with { Carlos Celdran }

STARTING TOMORROW!! May 22 & 23, 8PM : Spoken word, multi-media rendition of famous Intramuros tour by Carlos Celdran

Rolly’s Garage, 124 Ossington above Queen

also featuring the work of The Kilusan Collective

What happens when you take a group of Canadian-born Filipino artists and throw them across the ocean to go face-to-face with the land that they were raised by, but never knew?

Five artists.
Two cities.
One crazy exchange.

{ Alex Felipe }{ Ilona Fiddy }{ Jeff Garcia }{ Jennifer Maramba}{Tiffany Naval Jr}

~ by Leonard on May 21, 2009.

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