A team of local writers, photographers, and artists from Davao in partnership with Disenyo + Arkitektura and a local architecture firm, jumpstarted MVGNA (pronounced mug.na) Espasyo Alternatibo (Alternative Space) last March 8, 2014. It is from the Visayan word "mugna" which means "to create", "to initiate", and "to actualize".
Artist Mark Salvatus and curator Mayumi Hirano who were in town for a research on artist collectives and artist-run initiatives, were invited to speak about their initiatives and community projects. Both co-founded 98B COLLABoratory in Escolta with other artists, designers, writers, and researchers. Hirano is also one of the curators of the Koganecho Bazaar, an annual bazaar that takes place in a transformed public space of Koganecho area, formerly notorious as a red light district in Yokohama, Japan.
Koganecho Bazaar is one of the results of the years collaboration among the local city government, a group of artists and curators, and the local community to transform the former red light district into a cultural center, an effort which gained the government better tax collection, and for the community better reputation. Apart from organizing the bazaar, they were also able to open up low-cost studio and gallery spaces in former brothels to artists.
In his presentation, Salvatus highlighted the need for artists to have a 'third place'.
“Naturally, artists need a space – a creative space wherein great things can happen," said Salvatus. "It is not a gallery or a museum space where you see artworks, but more on process space, a lab, a workshop, incubating and initiating projects, tambayan (A hangout) and anything goes – where you can see the artist themselves – working.”
Inspired by both 98B and Koganecho Bazaar, the MVGNA team aims to develop the space into a creative co-working space for people from various backgrounds and interests.
Workshops, talks, and screenings are slated to happen in the venue in the coming months. For updates, visit MVGNA's Facebook page.
Photos by Julienne Mumar, Angely Chi, and James Clavel