Rhine Bernardino, Photography, Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholar 2015 – 2017
Rhine has a BA in Film and Audio Visual Communication from the University of the Philippines. Her collaborative approach to her craft is based on her belief that art is a catalyst for social change. She has previously established _inventory, a collective/initiative that organizes shows in alternative and public spaces to showcase young artists’ works and offers a residency program to engage communities in art through public performances, events and discussions.
Her work looks to challenge social convention and provoke discussion. She chose to begin one of her recent projects, Female Body Inside, in India to explicitly address the country’s high rates of abuse toward women, which she exhibited at the 2014 India Art Fair in Delhi. Rhine strives to promote the idea that art is non-exclusive, educational, utilizes local resources and is more accessible to people, especially in rural areas.
In Conversation with Rhine
Q: Can you describe your research and work?
A: My research in school is a continuation of my practice – the use of the body in performance art coupled with the exploration of the use of multimedia devices not just as a form of documentation but also as an integral part of the creation process. I was experimenting and delving more into live works but I still strongly believe that the concentration of my practice lies and is strongly tied with multimedia use and interdisciplinary experimentation. There was a bit of a struggle with this in my programme as it was more directed towards live performance and live art. Nevertheless, I dug deeper into physical and biological exploration of my body, as a strong focus of my continuing research.
Staying within the ‘self’, along with the body’s framework and context, I actively experimented with myself in order to draw out and possibly activate a higher understanding of it, as a physical and biological structure – a more internal/inward approach to address sociological, societal, political and cultural issues and concerns related to the body as both a physical entity and a blueprint that carries so many symbolisms, history and associations. In line with this research is extensive collaboration with another artist, to help explore the notion of self and the other – the idea of working together but being isolated.
I believe this pushes an individual in a certain state to investigate a different approach of getting closer to oneself whilst understanding the other.
Q: _Inventory is a platform you started. What are your most memorable moments in the past two years?
A: The last two years weren’t just an expansion of my individual practice but also an exciting year for _inventory, a platform I previously started. In the span of less than a year, we were able to execute 5 live exhibitions in diverse and alternative spaces working with about 50 artists, attended by an average of 50-100 people for each show. The most exciting of these and most memorable for me is Brgy. South Kensington, a week-long 24/7 live durational performance art event wherein for a whole week, a three-bedroom house located at the heart of London’s museum quarter was inhabited by 10 international artists, living and working together. Having 24/7 access, the public was able to experience an environment wherein they had the opportunity to intimately immerse themselves in the “liveness” of the moments of making. No time limit, no closing time, the door was always open and the work never stopped. It overflowed with energy coming from multitude of collaborations and interactions experienced by around 500 people who came throughout the week – most of whom are not really familiar with live/performance art or contemporary art in general.
Q: What difference has an RCA MA difference made to your practice?
A: There is a strong student support system at the RCA – from the faculty members, tutors, lecturers and staff to visiting artists and invited speakers. So, more often than not, someone is there to encourage or challenge queries and questions I have with regards to the direction of my practice as well as address issues and confusions I may have concerning my overall well-being.
Q: What plans do you have on graduating from the RCA?
A: The upcoming year will be a continuation of the groundwork for various collaborations I started through my individual practice and in relation to _inventory platform. I will be participating in some exhibitions in different spaces in London during the summer, the same time _inventory is due to resume its pending projects – beginning with working on the publication of our most recent project Brgy. South Kensington, a week-long 24/7 live durational performance art event.
I’m particularly invested in highlighting and expanding my dissertation research on exploring possibilities of contemporary art practice in the rural context and communities vis-a-vis urban practices. I plan to do a mapping of several existing projects in the field and its future prospects by connecting and opening a dialogue with several spaces and initiatives that operate in the same context in different parts of the world.
I’m also considering to pursue a practice-based Phd with this premise as the foundation for my research proposal, aiming to come up with a model for a sustainable, diverse, collaborative and multidisciplinary research-based art practice rooted in the context of a rural community; one that is not removed from the city and very much connected within the centre of contemporary art. This is what I plan to establish in the Philippines within the next five years, a model that can be replicated yet is also very adaptable and easily moulded to apply to varying places and circumstances.