Right People, Wrong Timing


Participants of the Intra-Asia Network meeting at the now defunct SSamzie Space, Seoul, 2006. Photo by Sau Bin Yap.

Many fear that COVID-19 will catalyze the violent fortification of national borders and, on a more intimate level, erode socializing as policies on mass gatherings and social distancing would instill unease and push us even further into individualism.

After enduring grueling periods of quarantine-imposed isolation, and currently facing anxieties produced by the crisis, perhaps gathering stories of artist networks and initiatives — discontinued, dormant, unsuccessful, or forgotten — and how they developed and thrived despite the lack of institutional support is a humble gesture but an urgent task in these trying times.

In resistance to the social crisis accelerated by the pandemic, the Right People, Wrong Timing project proposes to look at fellow independent initiatives and their struggles within a similar time period (late 90s to present) and to review the networks that have come and gone, and those that still stand. 

In collaboration with Sau Bin Yap of Rumah Air Panas and with the support of The Japan Foundation Manila (JFM), various artists, curators, writers, and cultural workers will be invited to recall and reflect on their defunct initiatives, dormant networks, and oft-forgotten events they had played key roles in and which, although may not have succeeded in the goals it set out to achieve, were nonetheless fruitful in unexpected ways.
Every Friday until the last week of December 2020, Papaya will post brief anecdotes and interviews narrating specific moments, articulating local urgencies, and remembering sustained connections, brief albeit exhilarating convergences, unlikely collaborations, abandoned projects, rapid (or glacial) transmissions of ideas, and community care. By doing so, we hope to compile common concerns, unearth motivations, resurface much-needed alternatives, and document under-the-radar or forgotten spheres. May these stories initiate new projects, reactivate dormant networks, and assert the primacy of communication among cultural workers.

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Special thanks to Mariko Okeda and Szusza Velasco for alerting us to apply for the JFM grant and sustaining Papaya’s decades long collaboration.