(January 8, 2014) CIV:LAB opened at one just right after the students took their lunch. However, there were no people yet inside the Amorsolo Hall red door where the lab is located. It was a chance for me to immediately setup the projector and laptop for the scheduled laboratory event that day.
Just right after the setup a woman in her mid-thirties came in. Her bulky bag was so obvious that I almost didn’t notice her partner behind. She opened her bag stuffed with endless fabric. Her name was Sakura Saunders and the endless fabric she unfolded was the enlarged piece of Beehive Design Collective’s collaborative work. It was beautiful and captivating that the need to use the projector becomes irrelevant.
People trickled as we hang the 20 feet fabric with intricate illustrations of insects and animals on the wall opposite to the lab. Students swarmed the piece to get a closer look. The number swelled into a couple of dozen and the talk presentation dubbed as “Storytelling and Resistance: An Introduction to Beehive Design Collective and Anarchist Hiphop” started right there and then.
Sakura first explained the other illustrated fabric sizing 10 feet in length following the pattern in the fabric. It looks like a floral pattern from a distant but it was indeed a map – a map of how Mesoamerica passed through continuous plundering done by colonization. People in the room mostly students began to immediately connect with the story; they listened carefully as they recall Philippine colonial history, galleon trade, Spanish colonization and Catholicism, etc. because the colonial geography of Mesoamerica is exactly the same in the Philippines.
However, the 20 feet fully illustrated fabric interests the people most. They began asking questions how it was done. Sakura surprised them with her answers.
“Twenty-two people are involved in making the poster and each one of us participates in consensus-decision-making especially during brain storming,” explains Sakura in her laudable voice. “It is the non-hierarchical form of relations that take too much time for each piece to make,” she adds confidently.
People were astonished to know that the piece was ten years in the making using social engagement – the vital part of Beehive Design Collective’s process of working. Meaning, The Bees (the term they call to collective members) in order to gather content they must engage with affected communities such as those who are in dire need to get their voices heard in their struggle for social-environmental justice. Sketch upon sketch before they finally ink the drawing The Bees make sure that they have represented them and their experience accurately by getting feedback and updates.
Personally, this non-hierarchical form of social relations behind the work is the most interesting part of the piece. I noted it down and wrote: “that type of social relations as a form is aesthetics in itself.” This aesthetic I believe is also the primeval basis for human beings to survive. It is how the ideal is reciprocated in reality. CIV:LAB’s concern is to gather all these forms especially that respond effectively in near apocalyptic disasters. Whether it’s a functional design like hydroponics, solar panels or forms of social relations aptly termed as the design of encounters.
Following after Sakura’s presentation her partner performed Hiphop in acapella. Testament as he calls himself is part of the anarchist Hiphop group Test Their Logik. They are notorious for their radical political message and their involvement in radical activist organizing especially the Anti-mining Justice in North America.
CIV:LAB is lucky to have Sakura Saunders, Beehive Design Collective and Testament in imparting their inspiring projects and practices that I hope someday will pave the way for the new world and leave the old world behind.
The lab that runs until March 25th will host more interesting people and groups, who are enthusiastic in sharing their initiatives, in the coming weeks. So please keep in touch and updated.
Special thanks to Greenhouse Infoshop, U.P. College of Fine Arts Student Coucil (S.Y. 2013-14), Mobile Anarchist School, EB Infoshop and the Local Autonomous Network for supporting this particular event.
12 January 2014
Quezon City, Philippines