A radical departure from previous designer interventions in indigenous communities will be unveiled in the product exhibit Y’ARÌ, at the April 2016 edition Manila FAME. The line of couture and accessories, as well as select pieces of home décor, will be the outcome of clinics integrating haute design within the range of possibilities of the refined work of three Mindanao villages.
Each high-end piece of wear and home accoutrement began with a selection of artisans capable of achieving the exquisite quality of work of their own grandparents among the B’laan and T’boli of Southern Mindanao. What followed was careful curatorial guidance to firmly recover the old (and often eroded) virtuosity, simultaneously as traditionally important materials are searched for throughout the Philippines and brought to the partner villages. Meanwhile, Manila-based and foreign designers were obliged to deeply understand the traditions, the old measures of quality, and the social dynamics of community life, prior to design interventions.
Changes of materials were guided by the intention to match the high quality of artisanal production with high quality materials. The curatorial direction consistently emphasized respect for the traditions of indigenous people; hence changes were only introduced which further elevated measures of quality recognizable, first of all, by the virtuosos themselves—instead of automatically imposing the “international” on the local.
The Y’ARÌ exhibit at Manila FAME was conceptualized as a laboratory that brings together disparate worlds: not just the global, capital cities, and village designers, but the artisanally-based producers of material, such as diaphanous piña cloth, silk, and cut mother-of-pearl, all Visayan products of industry, in support of katutubò virtuosity in Mindanao. Moreover, the laboratory involves support artisans, equally proficient, from Luzon. The outcomes have taken on completely cosmopolitan, indeed cutting-edge, looks—markedly distant from folksy design idioms. And yet their deep connection with the source culture are also equally overt.
“Through Y’ARÌ, CITEM aims to develop high value objects in collaboration with indigenous communities and showcase the marriage of culture and commerce in products that will be appreciated in the export market. It will provide Manila FAME global trade buyers and guests a perspective on the quality and level of skilled virtuosity and ethnological art tradition in the Philippines,” said Executive Director Rosvi C. Gaetos of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM). The export promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), CITEM is the owner and organizer of Manila FAME.
Curatorship for the laboratory is provided by TAO, Inc., the Philippines’ only museum development and curator-led corporation. When engaged by CITEM for this project, TAO, Inc. immediately chose to collaborate with a village in Sarangani with whom the company has had significant collaborations for an entire decade. The village of Lamlifew, a barangay of Malungon, Sarangani province, is a small settlement of a language group known as B’laan.
TAO, Inc. builds Y’ARÌ—which is intended to produce high end products for haute markets—on more than a decade of work with the Lamlifew Tribal Women’s Association, a group of women of the B’laan ethnolinguistic group. TAO, Inc. assisted the group in establishing the Philippines’ first museum initiated and operated by a village. The museum is going to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2017, and the collaboration with TAO, Inc. in Y’ARÌ is dedicated to the association head, Helen Lumbos, who has recently passed away.
TAO, Inc. curated Y’ARÌ on the basis of long-term, enduring relationships with indigenous peoples, to best bridge social and cultural divisions that are often impossible to surmount when design interventions are attempted with new relationships. In Y’ARÌ the design world meets up with the development world of community organizers, organic leadership at the grassroots, identity politics, and cross-cultural actors. (By Marian Pastor-Roces)
Y’ARÌ is one of the highlights of the Manila FAME April 2016 Boutique Edition which will be held on April 21-24, 2016 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila, Pasay City, Philippines.
Manila FAME is the Philippines’ only premier design and lifestyle event for the global market. A bi-annual trade show, it is dedicated to home, holiday, and fashion sectors featuring hundreds of exporters, manufacturers, and designers.
For more information on Manila FAME and Y’ARÌ, log on to www.manilafame.com.