text by Ren Aguila
A gallery such as Vinyl on Vinyl is one of those places that, if one has been following its evolution, can still be an exciting place no matter how often it reinvents itself. My first encounter with the place was in June 2010, not long after it opened in its longtime location at The Collective on Malugay Street in Makati. Back when it started, it was one of two or three stores selling vinyl toys, and they also had a vinyl record store in a loft upstairs. I got to know Gaby de la Merced and Pia Reyes, and even then, Gaby already understood where their priorities lay. In an interview in 2012 with me, de la Merced emphasized that Vinyl on Vinyl wanted to highlight newer players in the art scene.
Like other galleries, they had artists who started out with them. Froilan Calayag and Dex Fernandez being two of the more prominent examples whose works I had first seen in the gallery.
Vinyl on Vinyl made two big moves a couple of years later. The first was transferring from their space at The Collective to a warehouse just up the road on Chino Roces. It is a few hundred meters away from the De la Rosa intersection with that street. The other big move was to drop the whole vinyl toy and record selling enterprise altogether and focus on being a gallery. This was highlighted in a show titled Extended Play, which was one of two shows marking their sixth anniversary. “Every two years, we create an homage to our roots,” de la Merced said, adding that art and music was their impetus in the early days. The exhibition was a group show featuring 91 artists producing art on individual vinyl records. Many of them were artists who have exhibited at Vinyl on Vinyl over the last few years. The other show was a group exhibition, The Out Sounds From Way In: The Imaginary Music Show, featuring artists’ own take on album art, a complementary show to the Extended Play exhibit. The exhibit was curated by Mariano Ching.
One question we had to ask was what was the biggest change de la Merced saw in the years since the gallery opened in 2010. “The biggest change? Well, basically the Filipino art scene has grown exponentially,” she said, “It’s extremely vibrant. We already saw it in the beginning, it’s getting there.” She added that the kind of art and artistic culture surrounding it has found more and more acceptance within the art community. “I believe that we are on the cusp of something,” she said, “and I find it exciting and fascinating to see where we’ll end up in the next two or three years.”
Part of Vinyl on Vinyl’s purpose, de la Merced said in our brief conversation, was to orient people on the kind of art and artistic culture the gallery wished to highlight, both locally and abroad. It was notable that one of the events they hosted was a screening of Banksy’s “documentary”, Exit Through the Gift Shop. This helped me make sense of the kind of artistic culture that was making inroads locally and which was being given pride of place in the gallery. The dialogue between local street art, which was one genre Vinyl highlighted, and other forms of art was not long after given more prominence in a Lopez Museum exhibit, where the former was placed in conversation with the Museum’s permanent collection.
What’s next for Vinyl on Vinyl after the anniversary? Recently they had taken part in the Monicker Art Fair in the UK in early October. “It’s the premiere urban contemporary art fair,” de la Merced said, “[and] it’s been fascinating to be showcasing alongside people I’ve admired and art work that I’ve always loved.” Of course, there are three or four art fairs to attend in 2017, and a full exhibition program to handle. But what will remain is the passion the owners of the gallery have for art and their enthusiasm to share it with others, something we saw in the vibrant atmosphere of their anniversary last month.