Jul 15, 2020

Like all industries, the arts have also suffered terribly through this pandemic. With most of their events relying on a physical audience, we’ve been seeing cancellations and postponements and struggling artists right from the outbreak of this virus. 

Even so, we didn’t experience a scarcity of artworks, did we? In fact, a whole lot more art has been made accessible from the very first month of quarantine alone. Through it all, artists continued gifting us with works that help fill our days of being stuck at home and even gave us things to look forward to despite everything.  

It’s easy to say there’s simply no stopping artists’ creative nature after seeing how much they’ve persisted. But we should acknowledge the need to support arts workers in this crucial time for them to be able to sustain their craft. Below are the ways artists of different fields have been adjusting and reinventing their craft for their audience and for noteworthy causes—giving you all the reasons why we should support them even more at this time. 


Visual arts

Online exhibits and catalogues

Though nothing really compares to seeing an artwork up close, more and more galleries and artists have been making up for the cancellations of art shows by uploading their exhibits and catalogues online. 

Take Jackie Hontiveros-Lozano, for example: The painter and art educator has made her second solo exhibit available for viewing through her website. “Awakening,” which is an exhibit two years in the making, allows people to view her paintings up close and watch the artist herself explain the inspiration and processes behind her exhibit through a video. Pretty neat, right?

Aside from launching an online only show, Silverlens Galleries have also begun uploading catalogues of their current art shows. One of these is interdisciplinary artist Pow Martinez’ “Sustainable Anxiety,” which sheds light on how we’ve become spectators to our own downfalls as we slowly inch to our apocalypse. 

Artworks from this show are available for viewing online, and are also physically installed in the gallery. To view the paintings in person, an appointment should be made beforehand.

View this post on Instagram

#WeeklyArtwork Through his works, Pow Martinez explores the nuances and effects of our relationship with technology. In “Welcome to Paradise I” (2014), Pow Martinez paints a corner of a brightly-hued room. We get a glimpse of what’s hanging on the wall: a painting of a tropical scene. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The artist notes that we are enamored by the idea of reconnecting with nature, yet we can never bring ourselves to fully disconnect from the online world. Instead, we satisfy this desire by bringing elements from the outdoors inside. This idea is also explored in his more recent painting “divine intervention” (2020). Here, he returns to the confines of indoor spaces, with paintings of Philippine landscapes hung against the wallpapered walls, reminiscent of those in “Welcome to Paradise I” (2014). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ To learn more about the artist, visit our website linked in our bio. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ See more of Pow Martinez’s paintings in his solo show “Sustainable Anxiety,” on view onsite and online alongside “Little Blue Window” by Corinne de San Jose through 24 July 2020. Gallery visits are strictly by appointment only. To schedule your visit, click the link in our bio. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Image: Pow Martinez, "Welcome to Paradise I", 2014, oil on canvas, 103h x 117w cm, 40.55h x 46.06w in. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #SilverlensGalleries #PowMartinez #SustinableAnxiety #ContemporaryArt #ArtPH

A post shared by Silverlens Galleries (@silverlensgalleries) on

Modeka Creative Space also launched an Experiences section, which serves as the online counterpart of all of Modeka’s physical shows moving forward. Currently on view is “Finding Proximity,” a group show curated by Gwen Bautista that tackles how art fulfills iterations of attachment and connection through different materials and spaces.

View this post on Instagram

If you weren't able to catch the opening of Finding Proximity, you may book a private viewing of the works at Modeka just for yourself via DM or email. You may also see the works on our Experiences section on our website (link in bio) For a copy of the catalog, email us at [email protected] Finding Proximity, a group show curated by Gwen Bautista featuring recent works from Mina Katsuki, Yasuhiro Hara, Denise Heredia, Geremy Samala, Chico Cristobal, Tammy De Roca, Pablo Bermudez, Jem Magbanua, Gabby Prado, and Jonas Eslao, “Finding Proximity” will be installed on-site and in a specific virtual space as a mediation, given the current physical restrictions and limitations brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Exhibition runs from July 4 to July 30, 2020 For private viewings, email us at [email protected] or DM us.

A post shared by MODEKA CREATIVE SPACE (@modeka.art) on

This exhibit features paintings and collages from Jem Magbanua, Pablo Bermudez, Chico Cristobal and Denise Heredia among others.


Social media galleries and initiatives

Though not all galleries have this feature, you can expect more optimized images and videos of artworks on social media. These are usually coupled with lengthy captions written by art gallery staffers, offering interpretations of featured works.

Silverlens has been doing this through their #Revisit series on Instagram. The gallery has been sharing images, walk-through videos and notes from their past exhibitions.

View this post on Instagram

Every week, we’ll be sharing a video, notes, or images from our past exhibitions in a series we’re calling #revisit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Through his highly critical works, Santiago Bose expressed his belief in the ability of art to heal and change society. In celebration of the artist, we invite you to #revisit his posthumous exhibition “Bare Necessities” through this walkthrough with curator Dr. Patrick D. Flores and Peggy Bose. Join them as they delve deeper into Santiago Bose's works to further explore his practice as a painter and magician. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You can watch the full walkthrough of “Bare Necessities” on our IGTV. To read the full transcript, head on over to our website. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #SilverlensGalleries #SantiagoBose #BareNecessities #ContemporaryArt #ArtPH #Walkthrough #SantiagoBoseArt

A post shared by Silverlens Galleries (@silverlensgalleries) on

To help families affected by COVID-19, some artists have put their works up for sale. Abstract and surrealist artist Louie Cordero (also known as Lolo Buko) took on the challenge of creating one artwork per day for thirty days, with all proceeds going towards COVID-19 relief efforts.

[READ: 7 artists and galleries auctioning their art for COVID-19 relief efforts]

Through the “Art for Life” fundraising program, Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery also featured artworks for sale on Instagram. Artists like Wyndelle Ramone, Pey Reymond, Ciane Xavier and Bjorn Calleja have auctioned off their pieces with all the proceeds going towards purchasing medical equipment for frontliners.


Themes of the times

The pandemic has also brought about new prompts to artists. Through Silverlens’ #athomewith series, artists have been sharing what they’re currently working on and how they have been reflecting about the times to uplift and inspire creativity from their  respective spaces. 

View this post on Instagram

#athomewith Eric Zamuco | From his home in Manila, Eric Zamuco shares with us his thoughts on the transitions and transformations we have experienced during this quarantine. He reflects on the work he has been doing at this time and looks back at the work he has done in the past. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “If there is one thing that the stay home rule has magnified, it's the routines in the household. The pandemic prompts one to question the purpose of art when you feel that you barely have the extra energy for it, compounded by closed go-to spots for materials and the mobility problems in a lockdown. I catch myself focusing upon these controllable, ordinary, repetitive but crucial duties more than picking up a pen, a brush, or a drill. For me the camera became the tool for immediacy, to document and archive the everyday essential actions. This is a nod to Mierle Laderman Ukeles' oeuvre called Maintenance Art Tasks. As a mother and artist, her breakthrough came with her Duchampian declaration that her domestic actions are art. Everything is performative and so I have looked at past video documentations of my actions. ‘Anong Ginagawa Mo?’, is my first work using my body as a medium in 5 years.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You can follow Eric Zamuco here, @ezfile. You can also learn more about the artist on our website. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Images and video are courtesy of the artist. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #SilverlensGalleries #EricZamuco #ContemporaryArt #ArtPH

A post shared by Silverlens Galleries (@silverlensgalleries) on

Eric Zamuco, who we featured on Southern Living earlier this year, shared how he has been using the camera as a tool to document and archive his reflections on the routines of the household.

Online exhibitions about the pandemic are almost inevitable at this point. Paper Panic Project on Instagram has been serving as a creative outlet for local artists amid all this. With tissue paper as its main medium, the ongoing exhibition invites artists to contribute and say something about our current situation in almost any way. 

[READ: This Instagram account is an ongoing creative archive of the pandemic]


Online art auctions

With the help of live streaming and cashless payment methods, art auctions have also migrated online. Leon Gallery held The Spectacular Mid-Year Auction 2020 last month, which featured a three-panel collaboration between artists Mauro Malang Santos, Ang Kiukok and Hugo Yonzon, Jr.

[READ: This Malang, Kiukok and Yonzon masterpiece is being auctioned for P20M]

Gavel and Block, a subsidiary of Salcedo Auctions, raised P3 million last May through their first online auction in support of Rise Against Hunger Philippines. Designers Michael Cinco, Michael Leyva, Lesley Mobo and Filip+Inna have also pledged some of their pieces as part of this auction.

Despite all of this, there’s something that needs to be said about struggling independent artists whose main source of income is threatened at this time. So, if you want more art in your life, try commissioning an artist who could use some funding.



Digital prints 

With photographers having to cancel projects, online platform Shelter Fund has been put up to support the community by helping them sell prints of various photographers’ outtakes.

“Through your purchase of our prints, you help keep us safe in our homes, able to continue and contribute, and more importantly, all of us have committed to contributing part of our individual sales to a communal fund, making sure everyone is benefitted by your purchase,” Shelter Fund’s description reads. 

View this post on Instagram

This is the Shelter Fund, an initiative by photographers to aid one another through photography. ⠀ ⠀ Many of us have lent our images to various fund-raising activities to help combat this pandemic. Some even continue to work on the front lines, documenting it as it happens. But with the further extension of the quarantine, and the uncertainty it brings, we now also have to look inward, towards our own.⠀ ⠀ Through your purchase of our prints, you help keep us safe in our homes, able to continue and contribute, and more importantly, all of us have committed to contributing part of our individual sales to a communal fund, making sure everyone is benefitted by your purchase.⠀ ⠀ We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support.⠀ ⠀ Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #ShelterFund #ArtRelief

A post shared by SHELTER FUND (@shelterfund) on

Shelter Fund has since stopped selling photography and art prints, but their website feature the contact details of local photographers and artists that you can purchase prints from directly.


Facetime and Zoom photoshoots

It’s quite concerning to think about how photographers could continue doing subject shoots and producing output in the long run. Recently, photographers and models have adapted by conducting shoots via FaceTime and I was honestly blown away.

My cousin, who’s a photographer, told me that FaceTime actually doesn’t compromise photo quality and so that wasn’t much of a problem. The process is also somewhat the same in which he had to conceptualize the angle, the background and the frame but this time he only had to click a button in his computer.

Last April, designer Simon Porte Jacquemus actually released his Spring 2020 campaign featuring supermodel Bella Hadid. The images were shot entirely via FaceTime by photographer Pierre-Ange Carlotti and was creative-directed by Jacquemus himself. The outtakes were nothing short of creative with the informal backdrop subtly matching the theme of the collection and Hadid’s barefaced expressions tying the whole thing together.

Photographers have also begun conducting shoots via Zoom. Recently, Shaira Luna has been sharing the results of her Zoom shoots with models and celebrities on her Instagram account.

In an article for Vogue, Christian Allaire predicts that this do-it-yourself approach might just be what fashion brands will soon have to adopt. This is because he observes that “not only does it carry on business in a practical way, it also calls for a little dose of creativity and outside-the-box thinking.” 

Moving forward, this might just reduce the need for all the studio equipment once the pandemic dies down. How about finding a cute spot in your house and then booking a FaceTime shoot with a photographer you know?



Free-access online films 

Last March, TBA Studios uploaded nine full-length feature films on their YouTube channel including Jerrold Tarog’s psychological thriller “Bliss,” Mihk Vergara’s coming-of-age film “Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo,” Ida Del Mundo’s drama “K’Na The Dreamweaver” and Emerson Reyes’ comedy-drama “Dormitoryo,” among others. 

The film production company followed it up by making their blockbuster film “I’m Drunk, I Love You,” “Neomanila,” and award-winning crime mystery drama film “Smaller and Smaller Circles” available for streaming.

[READ: 6 local films you may have missed in cinemas are now streaming online]

Last month, more local films were made available on Netflix. Indie films like “Pamilya Ordinaryo,” “Lola Igna,” and “Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap,” which received awards in Cinemalaya and Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, are now part of the streaming service’s roster.

[READ: Indie film fans, catch your favorites on Netflix this June—start with award-winning ‘Pamilya Ordinaryo’]

There have also been ways to support and enjoy films for the benefit of freelance workers in the local film industry. In March, a group of independent filmmakers formed “Lockdown Cinema Club,” which has curated over a hundred Southeast Asian independent films, shorts and features.

Before they stopped accepting donations, the collective raised over P2 million for the benefit of over a thousand film workers. As of writing, Lockdown Cinema Club continues to upload new films to their archive.

May tanong ka ba tungkol sa Lockdown Cinema Club at ang mga beneficiaries nito? Check out these Frequently Asked…

Posted by Lockdown Cinema Club on Sunday, March 22, 2020


Experimental film formats

Some filmmakers have also been experimenting with new formats and themes using social media features like live streaming and video chat. 

One example is the hour-long Instagram Live session between John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo, where the famed love team reflected on the ongoing crisis, mental health issues and revisited scenes from their past films together. 

Director Antonette Jadaone later revealed that the livestream was an art piece for “The Unconfined Cinema,” which was launched as part of Art Fair Philippines 2020. The livestream was produced by Erwin Romullo, Philbert Dy and Dan Villegas, and founded on the idea of “freeing our stories to be told outside of the traditional spaces and conceptual boundaries set by the last century of the medium.” 

View this post on Instagram

The Unconfined Cinema was founded on the idea of exploring what else cinema could be, freeing our stories to be told outside of the traditional spaces and conceptual boundaries set by the last century of the medium. In this unprecedented time of quarantine, in a time when movie production is impossible, we found it especially pressing to find ways to tell our stories. “Love Team” is a love story – whether romantic or in its other forms – told entirely within Instagram. It is a story of our times. Love stories have always had their place in Filipino cinema, and we wanted to bring the feelings that those movies inspire to a platform that has become more relevant and utilised in this time of quarantine – social media, specifically Instagram. The use of social media creates all sorts of new possibilities for storytelling. This was a story told over two weeks, adapting and evolving to real-life events, integrating our genuine sentiments over the state that we’re in. This is a platform where we all share little bits of ourselves. Through our images, this curated list of memories, we reveal what it is we want the rest of the world to see. Using the various features of Instagram, we attempted to tell a story of two people reconnecting in a trying time; separated by distance, but united in their memories. We are in a culture where the usually distinct line between reality and make-believe blur. We started this story by stating that “any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is intentional.” And that remains true. It was the only way this was possible. The Unconfined Cinema invites filmmakers and artists to join us in exploring the possibilities of our cinema. Not just on Instagram, but on every stage imaginable. #unconfinedcinema

A post shared by Antoinette Jadaone (@tonetjadaone) on

Another experimental film initiative is iWant’s “Love Lockdown,” which stars Jake Cuenca, Kylie Versoza, Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman. It tells the story of  “seven lives connected by love, shattered by betrayal, threatened by obsession” all living in the time of quarantine like the rest of us using video chat rooms and other channels.

“Love Lockdown” offers a glimpse of the new normal in cinema, as the scenes were all reportedly shot from each of the actors’ homes with virtual coordination with their team of directors.


Online film festivals

With the pandemic prompting film festival organizers to postpone events worldwide, 20 major film festivals worked together for a 10-day global streaming event. 

The event, titled “We Are One: A Global Film Festival” is a fundraising initiative that will benefit the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The event streamed movies, documentaries and panel discussions from Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and Sydney Film Festival. 

[READ: 20 major film festivals will be holding a 10-day free digital festival on YouTube]

Even local film festivals are shifting to online formats. On July 15, it was announced that the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will be pushing through online, focusing on short films.

In a virtual press conference, festival director Chris Millado announced that the film fest will hold its Cinemalaya Online Short Film Festival and Competition from Aug. 7 to 16. All the entries will be released on Vimeo, and viewers will be able to purchase and stream over 100 short films and 20 full-length features for as low as P75.

[READ: The cinema is now online: The first deets on Cinemalaya 2020’s virtual theater setup]


Performing arts

As theater halls remain vacant because of social distancing measures, many theater companies have taken the show from the stage to the screens by making performances accessible online—all the while retaining its special quality through specific streaming times.

Scheduled show reruns

Last May, “Ang Huling El Bimbo” was streamed on ABS-CBN’s YouTube channel and Facebook page for 48 hours. The reruns raised over P12 million under the network’s  “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” program for the benefit of families most affected by the quarantine.

Dulaang UP also released videos of productions like “Ang Nawalang Kapatid,” “Fathers and Sons” and “The Kundiman Party” on their official YouTube channel.

[READ: Here’s where you can find your favorite plays and musicals online]

Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), established PansamanTanghalan. This initiative made some of their award-winning plays available for streaming and monovlogs starring the theater company’s artistic director Nanding Josef and Nora Aunor.

For a month, the theater company streamed some of their memorable performances like “Sandosenang Sapatos,” “Lam-Ang,” “Mabining Mandirigma,” “Pangarap sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-Araw”, “Coroliano” and “Der Kaufmann” 

[READ: The show must go on…line: CCP and Tanghalang Pilipino plays are now on YouTube]


Full online festival migration

CCP’s annual theater festival, Virgin Labfest (VLF) has also announced that they will be migrating their whole lineup online. “#Kapit, a Virtual Labfest: Lockdown Edition” featured nine new works, three revisited plays and six new staged readings.

This was also accompanied by four roundtables featuring directors, designers, stage managers and production managers, as well as a program called “VLF Cross-Media: From Page to Stage to Movies.” The writing fellowship program and playwrights fair also took place online.

[READ: CCP’s annual theater festival Virgin Labfest goes fully digital this year]


Open House

An online fundraising project for the benefit of displaced performing arts workers in light of COVID-19 has also been put up in the name of Open House. The initiative is a  collaboration of Artists Welfare Project, Philstage, SPIT MNL, Third World Improv, the Theater Actor’s Guild and Ticket2Me which organizes a series of free classes, shows, roundtables and  workshops from people working in the industry. 

Having already reached their target of P1 million to be allocated to 300 workers, Open House had their closing night marking the end of the series of shows last May 15 but you can still donate here.



Even though the pandemic has seriously hit the music industry, quarantine has nonetheless brought us quite a number of online concerts, initiatives, jamming sessions and exciting new collaborations between artists. 

Virtual Concerts

Last March, Ben&Ben had a virtual concert from the comforts of each member’s respective homes titled “Puhon!,” which raised over P2.5 million for COVID-19 testing kits, PPEs, food for medical frontliners and as relief goods for daily wage workers.

National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab also established “Bayanihan Musikahan,” a series of online concerts that hopes to raise money for food packs and health supplies to be distributed to urban poor communities in Metro Manila. Artists like Karylle, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenicano and Lea Salonga have held online concerts through this initiative.

In the spirit of #BayanihanMusikahan, let us all continue to champion citizen action and lend a hand to those in great need. #TaumbayanToTheRescue!

Posted by Bayanihan Musikahan on Saturday, May 30, 2020


Private Zoom Concerts

Although bands and solo artists can make a living out of music streaming and merch sales, their crew members can’t exactly say the same. In light of this, independent artist management and event organizing company Red Ninja turned their regular gig series into a fundraising event.

The “What’s Meron?” gig series is now held in private Zoom rooms, which allows fans to directly interact with artists. Tickets to the concerts are priced at P50 per artist, with proceeds going to organizations such as Roadie Superstar (displaced production members), Fund the Forests For the Frontliners, #MusiciansForTheBarrios, and OneSmilePH.


Online Music Fests

Last month, 88rising held Asia Rising Forever: An online music festival that featured Asian mainstays and newcomers to the music scene. The broadcast took place for three hours, streamed through the company’s YouTube and Twitter pages.

Another online festival that featured an all-Asian musical lineup was #OurIdentity: Project Blue Marble, which was a fundraiser for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and COVID-19 relief efforts.


Header photo by Shua Baber for the United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.

Read more:

As art galleries close, online exhibits open their doors

Google Arts & Culture includes 9,000 Filipino artworks in their online exhibits

9 local museums you can virtually tour for International Museum Day

TAGS: Jackie Hontiveros Lozano Modeka Creative space Silverlens Galleries