2021 Ibagiw Contemporary Art Exhibition
The sweet smell that permeates the earth after the touch of a gentle summer rain. Its arrival almost feels shrouded in mystery. Like an unexpected homecoming, it’s a perfume that evokes intense emotions, and memories come flooding back to us.
This natural phenomenon is known as petrichor in English, and is caused by the release of specific chemicals in the soil when the rain reaches the ground. By nature’s alchemical magic, a bubble of gas may find its way in the air as rain collides with the earth. We know this scent so well, not only because the human nose is extremely sensitive to one of the organic compounds released during petrichor, geosmin, at concentrations as low as 400 parts per trillion. We know it so well because our sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses.
For some, alimuom may be an unpleasant, overpowering miasma, a musky odor associated with illness, but no one can deny that it is also the scent of the earth, a reminder that the place we are in, our home, is alive and well. When we smell it, we are smelling an entire circle of life.
This is a scent that becomes stronger in moist, wooded areas. Dwellers of Baguio, can smell the earth in the air year round, where the scent of the earth constantly permeates due to the quintessential ‘Baguio weather’—in the crisp morning air, rain-kissed leaves of forest trees, and the moist earth. It is something shared, an intrinsic element of what gives them their sense of place.
Depictions of nature and the city have remained a potent source of inspiration for many of the Baguio artists featured in this exhibition. Part memory, part nostalgia, the artists go beyond a mere representation of the physical visible world, but also imbue it with personal feelings and history through a symbolic shorthand embodying their character and inner spirit to bring audiences into the more intimate spaces of their lives. Much like alimuom is the scent of the earth that permeates in the air and conjures memories for us that smell it, the artworks here are not merely a reflection nor an interpretation of the world they call their home. Rather, they embody the inner landscape and beingness of each artist.
Words by: Maria Malonzo and Fara Manuel Nolasco
The 2021 Ibagiw Festival Steering Committee
Festival Director: Engr. Aloysius Mapalo
Members of the Steering Committee:
Raymundo Rovillos, Co-Chair of Creative Baguio City Council (CBCC)
John Arvin I. Molintas, Baguio Arts and Crafts Collective, Inc. Representative
Donna R. Tabangin, City Planning & Development Coordinator, Baguio City
Jovi Ganongan, Regional Director for Department of Tourism (DOT-CAR)
Juliet P. Lucas, Regional Director for Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
Leticia Clemente, City Budget Officer, City of Baguio
Fr. Gilbert Sales, President of St. Louis University and co-convenor, , Creative Baguio City Council (CBCC)
Ferdinand Balanag, Creative practitioner and co-convenor, Creative Baguio City Council (CBCC)
Noly Balatero, co-convenor, Creative Baguio City Council (CBCC)
Fara Manuel-Nolasco, Curatorial Head for “Alimuom” and co-convenor, Creative Baguio City Council (CBCC)