It was a vision built in the middle of nowhere, but is now here.
In 1872, novelist Samuel Butler wrote a satire titled “Erehwon,” an anagram of nowhere. He created a utopian society that depicts a total opposite of the social mores and laws of the Victorian England.
Fast forward to 2013, a group of Filipino artists have reconstructed the anagram of erehwon—from “nowhere” to “now here.”
In celebration of its second anniversary, the Erehwon Center for the Arts has launched its second book with exhibit, “Volume II: Kasamá,” which is a collaborative work of 74 artists.
“As a center, we want to enable artists to better cope with issues and problems of the time,” Erehwon chair Rafael Benitez said. “It is the center’s object to introduce the artist residency program in the Philippines, and Erehwon’s art policy council will work aggressively for the revival of the shelved bill.”
Aside from this, Benitez said that the group wants to voice out concerns of these artists and push the approval of the pending bill in both Senate and Congress for the creation of a Department of Art and Culture sponsored by father-and-son Senators Ed and Sonny Angara.
“As far as the art policy council is concerned, there’s no group or organization which stands up for basic issues of art,” Benitez said. “We’re forming an art policy council and Erehwon will spearhead it. We have no intentions of sitting in those positions.”
As for the residency program, the Erehwon center is specially built to accommodate several artists who want to work on their current projects. The three-story building has two beds, two double-deckers and private baths for those who need to stay overnight.
Erehwon is in partnership with Viafarini of Milan, Italy. Two artists from Italy will be flown here in exchange for our local artists. But, so far, the center is still working on its budget.
Erehwon sponsors Talahib People’s Music which recently came from Denmark, the Metro Manila Concert Orchestra (MMCO) under the musical directorship of Chino Toledo, and independent filmmakers Film-dogs.
To sustain funds for the program, Erehwon has a corporate arm that helps finance its projects.
“The basic assumption is that art is expensive,” Benitez said. “Erehwon Corporation subsidizes programs through its printing, publishing and public art.”
Benitez added that the center can boast of its “mini-cultural center” concept because it aims to be an alternative arts center of the Philippines.
“For this year, we aim to reach a wider and global audience through collaboration with various artists and institutions,” Benitez said.