ART GALLERY Pineapple Lab will be closing its doors at the end of August as the pandemic and subsequent technical recession claim another small business.
“No words can even capture all the moments in between these photos and all the people that changed our lives along the way — many of whom have continued to create movements in some shape or form,” said Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan, Pineapple Lab’s creative director, in a Facebook post on Aug. 9. “We made this difficult decision because our space thrives on gatherings and reaching out to our communities — having that real-life energy exchange is something we live off of. However, due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, physical distancing provisions, the very slow government response to the pandemic, and the lack of policies protecting independent arts spaces, we had to think about the sustainability of the organization. Unfortunately, part of that is having to let go of the space and continuing the work that we do in the cloud, at the moment,” he said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.
In the same e-mail, he reassured the public that “It’s not a goodbye to Poblacion from Pineapple Lab however. We will soon be popping up at a new HQ at the Draper Startup House on Burgos when all this is over.”
And although the space is closed because of the pandemic, that does not mean that they are not busy. “We are currently doing a few partnerships and online activities with the Bangsamoro Short Film Festival (@bangsamoroshort) and with the UK-based Inventory Platform (@inventoryplatform) and Guest Projects’ (@guestprojects) Where I’m Coming From exhibition. We are definitely looking at more opportunities to collaborate and to create programs that will be available online,” he said.
Located along Palma Street in the Poblacion district of Makati City, Pineapple Lab has been a hub and venue for local artists and aficionados to hang out, mount exhibits, stage performances, and was home to Fringe Manila, a yearly open-access art festival offering out-of-the-box shows. It was a venue “dedicated to finding innovative ways to showcase the works of Filipino art makers, international artists, and collaborators,” according to its Facebook page. Speaking about the name, Mr. Pamintuan said, “If you look at a pineapple, you see that it has many eyes or segments, which for us represents the multi-faceted nature of the lab.”
The gallery, attached to its HollowBlock Retail space, houses a Filipino-themed vintage shop called Glorious Dias (see BusinessWorld’s story on it: https://www.bworldonline.com/the-past-revisited/) and Lesli Espisona’s hair salon. Both shops will also leave the space by the end of the month. “While we let go of our space, we hang on to all the memories and lessons learned until we can make new ones again,” he said in a Facebook post.
The post thanked the artists and people that have been a part of the gallery since it opened in 2015 it also apologized to the artists who will have to say goodbye to a gallery they called home. “For those who have always believed in the lab — in what we do and in what we stand up for — my heart breaks we couldn’t say, ‘hey just pop in and say hi and come hang out,’” Mr. Pamintuan said. Pineapple Lab, he said, “articulated a certain purpose and point of view that we wanted to share in Poblacion.
“It was our safe space and it was how we were able to work and collaborate with the most talented folks that have become part of the Pineapple Lab family. The past five years have been quite an amazing ride and we would not have thrived if not for the community that shaped what the lab has become,” he added. “What I do know is we found a home in Poblacion and rooted our work not only in providing a venue for artists, but also in creating programs that made arts and cultural activities accessible to our local community.”
Mr. Pamintuan speaks about the importance of art, in a world scrambling for essentials. “Art will survive, period. I think that is what we need to remind ourselves and those that do not see that the arts are essential. It has always survived, the question is, how much value are we putting in it? We need to change the way we look at arts and cultural activities and start seeing how much it has and will contribute to cultural development and a sustainable future,” he said in his e-mail to BusinessWorld.
“This isn’t the first time we said goodbye to our home,” noted Mr. Pamintuan, speaking about a move a few years ago from a previous location to its present soon-to-be-vacated space. “Like Jodinand (Aguillon Pineapple Lab’s executive director) said, ‘If you can build it before, you can build it again.’ And so we take all the memories and all the folks with us, as we look forward with hope and serve as an inspiration to continue our programs beyond the walls.” — Joseph L. Garcia and Zsarlene B. Chua