Phoenix: Australian and Filipino Artists Collaborate with Manila slum communities for an Art Exhibition to Spotlight their Creativity and Spirit

Phoenix promo with WhenInmanila added (1)


More than 100 residents from the garbage-picking and charcoal-making communities of metropolitan Manila express their communities’ stories through mixed media

Australian contemporary and street artist Kaff-eine has collaborated with more than 100 residents of major Filipino slum communities and local Filipino photographers to create an exhibition of new works on paper, photographs and a short documentary to be presented at James Makin Gallery in Melbourne, from 6 November until 15 November 2015. The exhibition, titled Phoenix, celebrates stories and personalities from the often-ignored dumpsite communities of Baseco Compound and Happyland, located within Metro Manila, which are home to more than 40,000 and 20,000 Filipino men, women and children respectively. Proceeds from sales of the collaborative works will be donated to non-government organisations working in the communities, for programs that help to improve the collaborators’ living circumstances.

Kaff-eine has collaborated with the Filipino garbage-picking and charcoal-making communities to create a series of new charcoal based artworks, working alongside local Filipino photographers Geloy Concepcion and Geric Cruz, who documented the intimate art-making process.

Created on-site during March 2015, using charcoal made by the communities, Kaff-eine’s works were made by collaborating with more than 100 residents ranging from the age of three to fifty-three years-old.

Baseco Compound and Happyland are two of the most impoverished  dumpsite communities in Manila, often described as dirty, crime-ridden, violent and ‘god forsaken’, attracting little interest, empathy, or investment to make changes to their appalling circumstances. Phoenix invites the audiences to step inside these confronting environments and recognise the nuance, pride and strength of these communities.

“We’re hoping that Phoenix, which is part of a series of ongoing art and social change projects, will engage a wide audience, disrupt perceptions and share with viewers the creativity, resilience and spirit of the people living in Manila’s literal waste lands,” said artist Kaff-eine.

The series of works presented in Phoenix includes collaborative charcoal and watercolor pieces, which began onsite in Baseco and Happyland, and were completed in Kaff-eine’s studio; solo pieces by Kaff-eine; fine art photography of the communities by Geloy and Geric; and a mini-documentary that captures the intimate art-making process.

Metro Manila’s slum communities are home to many millions of poverty stricken people. The residents exist alongside those in wealthy cities and villages, often separated only by a high wall. The slum residents who experience some of the most brutal circumstances are the garbage-picking and charcoal-making communities, whose homes and livelihoods are near or within Manila’s garbage dumps.

The Phoenix collaborative project was funded by Kalabaw, a solo exhibition by Kaff-eine in January 2015, at Fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne, and made possible by the generous support of many.

Phoenix will generate funding and other support for Kaff-eine’s next collaborative project, Happyland, expected to take place in 2016. For Happyland, Kaff-eine will be painting portraits of Baseco and Happyland’s local heroes, and printing the portraits on many large tarpaulins. In partnership with the communities, the tarps will be installed and gifted to the residents for housing or other uses,  further investing in their communities and inviting change.

Phoenix will be presented from 6 November until 15 November at James Makin Gallery in Melbourne, 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood, VIC. Julian Burnside AO QC will officially open the exhibition on 6 November at about 8pm, followed by the global premiere of the Phoenix documentary, however doors open 6-9pm.