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Materials that were damaged in a fire at Green Papaya Art Projects in Manila on June 3. Photo: Green Papaya Art Projects.

Blaze Tears Through Manila’s Artist-led Nonprofit Green Papaya

Green Papaya Art Projects, the oldest artist-run nonprofit in Manila, has been ravaged by a fire that broke out in a neighboring building on June 3. No injuries were reported, but much of the space’s archives were destroyed and its ground-floor ceiling collapsed. The firemen who extinguished the blaze, which also damaged at least three businesses, determined that the cause was electrical.

Established by Norberto Roldan and Donna Miranda in 2000 as an initiative that “supports and organizes actions and propositions that explore alternative approaches to the production, dissemination, research, and representation of art in various disciplines,” Green Papaya was planning to permanently close in 2021 and has been working with Asia Art Archives to archive all of its previous projects.

A statement about the fire that was posted on Green Papaya’s Facebook on Wednesday criticized current events, including Manila’s reopening and recovery plan, asserting that it is behind in testing and implementing safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and a new anti-terror bill that allows the government to classify dissidents as terrorists. Hundreds took to the streets to protest the controversial legislation, which was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on Thursday.

Green Papaya is currently looking to rent a temporary space where it can sort through the burnt and water-damaged materials that were salvaged from its building and rebuild its archives. The nonprofit is accepting donations in support of its conservation work.