Post-Residency Reflections: Vienna

It’s that time of the year when I finish all residencies, fellowships, talks, and exhibitions, and reflect on the year that’s about to pass. It’s been a wonderful year of learning from different cultures and finding other ways of pursuing my practice. In 2018, I held residencies and fellowships in Vienna (KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery), Beijing (China Residencies and Red Gate Gallery), and Taipei (Mekong Cultural Hub and the British Council). This post recalls some of my favorite memories during my Vienna residency.


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Upside down castle! 🏰😍 #SchlossWalks

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My residency with KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery was, without a doubt, one of the best and most rewarding residencies I’ve had. Being in the quiet environment of the Schloss Laudon complex, having a very supportive staff (Hi Nicole and Brigitte!) and wonderful collaborators, and having freedom and time made me push myself and not waste a day. It also helped that I was around nature and was able to go hiking every day if I wished. I came out with another body of work and more questions that I hope to pursue as I move forward.

Here are memories that I took away from Vienna and hope to return to one day:

1. The museums

Specifically, I could live in the Naturhustorisches Museum Wien (Natural History Museum, Vienna), and bunk in the meteorite room and hang out with the taxidermists and herpetologists. Then I can take a break by going across the plaza to check out the cabinet of curiosities at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Then walk across the street to MuseumsQuartier and take a nap on one of the purple benches. It was fantastic to drink in all of this knowledge and be inspired by it.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The meteorite room! Hello again, lover. 😍

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2. The Tiergarten

I love animals and have always been seeking to incorporate zoology (one of the subjects my mom used to teach) into my work, so it was such joy to work with Gerhard Heindl, the historian of the oldest zoo in the world, to produce our collaborative piece, Der Tiergarten 1.0: Human Forces on the Animal Kingdom.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It was really great to welcome Dr. Gerhard Heindl at our group show at the Federal Chancellery exhibition hall yesterday! Dr. Heindl is the historian of the Schönbrunn Zoo, whom I’ve been collaborating since the beginning of my residency with KulturKontakt Austria. Together we produced this project for Wild Science: Der Tiergarten 1.0: Human Forces on the Animal Kingdom is a board game that illustrates the human forces that affect the animal kingdom and, consequently, the biodiversity of the planet. The two-person game allows the players to reflect on the effects of border walls, climate change, poaching, etc., while moving game pieces on the board. The wood was taken from a 100-plus-year-old dying maple tree that was planted in the Schönbrunn Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in the world, and was cut to prevent safety hazards. The artist then sanded and laser-engraved it with a design based on the original menagerie plans of the Tiergarten by Jean Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey in 1751. The game cards include archival images of animals in the Tiergarten with images dating before World War II. The game recalls popular card games such as Pokemon and Exploding Kittens, whose strategies for mass attention the artist reflected on. What might we do to make people think about biodiversity in their daily lives? https://wildscience.cc/2018/06/12/der-tiergarten-1-0-human-forces-on-the-animal-kingdom/ #WildScience #DerTiergarten #SchonbrunnTiergarten

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It was also a treat to go around the zoo in a golf cart to carry some 100+ year old wood!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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When the historian of the world’s oldest zoo personally drives you with a suitcase full of stuff for your collaboration. 😂😍 Danke for the lift, Dr. Heindl! #WildScience

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3. Schloss Laudon and Augustinerwald

I miss the castle that we were never allowed into. And the swans and flowers. And those two sculptures of wild boars. And the room that used to be a sauna that was turned into art studios. And most of all, the stories of previous residents.

I also miss my bathtub, the Schloss Laudon fox, the trees I would say hello to, the bugs, etc.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Gonna miss you, Schloss Laudon fox! Good to see you on our last days. #SchlossWalks

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There were no taekwondo schools nearby so I had to find other ways of being centered. Thankfully, there was a forest right outside the schloss, so off I went many times. Being in nature is one way to flex our muscle against capitalism and fascism, so this is one thing I always make time for:

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Hiking my normal route counterclockwise is definitely a lot better. Look at this light! 😍 Plus the muddy parts become uphill and easier and I shaved off 15 minutes from my usual time. 😀

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4. My fellow residents
As KulturKontakt Austria’s first artist-in-residence from the Philippines (sheesh, aren’t I always the first artist from the Philippines?), it was very mind-expanding to meet fantastic artists from Eastern Europe. To most Asians, when we think of Europe it’s usually the London-Paris-Barcelona triad and nearby, perhaps similar to how Westerners automatically think “Japan” or “China” when they think of Asia. Perhaps we surprised each other. It’s always a very humanizing event to meet different people and realize how very similar we are. Not to mention how amazing their food is.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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What a gorgeous day for a picnic! 😍

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5. My non-residency friends
Isn’t it great to click with people from all over the world? In this residency I met some activists, translators, artists, and many other people who made my three-month stay in Vienna seem as though I was home. There are still lots of freethinking people in Austria; I highly recommend checking it out!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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One Manileño down, one to go. We’ll miss you, Poklong! Even me; I live in Malate and you’re in QC! 😂

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6. New skills
Each project makes me want to push myself and learn something new, so it is with a lot of pride and excitement that I report that I can now work with a belt sander and a laser engraver. The latter is only after a lot of help from German-speaking people at HappyLab. I’m a member of a maker lab—how miraculous is that?

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This century-old tree took so long to work on. Now I need a massage. But very happy to work with my hands. 😂😍 #ChicksWithPowerTools #WildScience

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7. Working with kids
I think working with children and youth will always be part of my practice, so hurray for the first group of writers for Letters for Science!

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This June 18th, I was at Eferding,  the third oldest city in Austria, to hold an art and science workshop for KulturKontakt Austria's Artists in Residence Go to School program. The 13-year-old students studied their specimens under the microscopes, learned about Austria's historic Novara Expedition, did a scent workshop, and for the last fifteen minutes the girls and I discussed feminism. 😂😍 These were the kids who wrote the first cohort of Letters for Science, Wild Science's participatory project where the public writes letters to people skeptical of the science of climate change, shape of the earth, vaccinations, etc., to create a respectful and empathetic discourse with people of different beliefs. Their letters were exhibited at our group exhibition at the Austrian Federal Chancellery in Vienna. It was really good to meet them for the first time. Thanks, kids, and to their English teacher, Frau Eva Heider-Stadler! Eferding is also the place where astronomer Johannes Kepler got married, so it was cool to visit! #WildScience

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8. Being around the history of science and art
From carrying a pizza box outside Johannes Kepler’s old apartment to having coffee in Gustav Klimt’s old stomping grounds, Austria is pretty fantastic for art-science nerds like me.

9. The Naschmarkt

 

If I add up the ages of all the old science books I bought, they will span centuries. I miss my Saturday routine of grabbing a couple of Kaspressknödel and saying hello to my favorite booksellers, Gerard and Idris.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Last day in the flea market and said goodbye to my favorite stalls. Going to miss these century-plus-old books! 😍😭

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I also unwittingly built a collection of Nazi books, including a 1938 Mein Kampf. I’m still hoping to incorporate into a project. (I only read half of it; how depressing to read someone’s unadulterated hatred for other people.)

 

10. The cakes
Hey Austria, when I finally lose the 10 pounds I gained from three months of eating Sachertorte, I hope to see you again.

 

 


Thanks for everything, Vienna! Hope to see you again soon!

 

From April to June 2018, I was artist-in-residence of KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery. The body of work produced during this time was Wild Science.

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