Jun 04 2020

Manila’s Oldest Artist-Run Space Damaged in Fire

by HG Masters

The space of Manila-based Green Papaya Art Projects has been badly damaged by fire. Image via Facebook.

On June 3, a fire severely burned and damaged the interior of the 20-year-old Manila nonprofit arts space Green Papaya Art Projects, along with its archives. The fire started in the morning of June 3 in a neighboring space in the Kamuning area of Quezon City. Neighbors alerted members of Green Papaya, however by the time the fire department arrived the blaze had already spread into the upstairs space and the ground-floor ceiling had collapsed. Green Papaya posted on its Facebook page that according to fire-service investigators the cause was an electrical fire. 

Founded in 2000 by Norberto Roldan and Donna Miranda, Green Papaya is the longest-running artist-led space in Manila. Over the past two decades, the group had supported numerous artist projects and visiting residents, hosted film screenings and public talks, as well as collaborating with organizations on artist projects abroad. The group moved into this location on Kamuning Road in 2008. Donna Miranda wrote on June 4 that “GP is like the fruit it was named after, ‘always in the state of becoming.’ I’m confident it will emerge back up and complete the work it has set out to do.”

Green Papaya originally planned to close the organization in 2021, and has spent the previous year archiving its projects, working with Hong Kong’s Asia Art Archive. Its collection included more than 300 artist-donated works on canvas, paper, and photographs. 

The group included in its June 3 Facebook message about the fire a strong rebuke of recent events in the Philippines, including the lack of Covid-19 testing in Manila, the arrest of six jeepney drivers in Caloocan for protesting their lack of income, and the passage of a new Anti-Terror Bill that will allow the Duterte government to detain people without warrants. “We are safe for now,” Green Papaya wrote, “but the house is still burning.”

HG Masters is the deputy editor and deputy publisher of ArtAsiaPacific.

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