The archives of the Manila artist-run space Green Papaya have been partially destroyed in a fire. The blaze started at 10am on 3 June on the second floor of the furniture shop next door, ‘spreading fast’ through the dividing wall. The fire then caused extensive damage to the first floor of Green Papaya where documentation of its 19-year history was stored. Part of the ground floor ceiling also collapsed. The gallery was closing this year and while it staged exhibitions, it has long earned a reputation as a community hub for local and visiting artists to meet, eat together and share resources.
No one was hurt in the incident, which on-scene investigators from the local fire brigade say was caused by an electrical fault. The full extent of the damage is as yet unclear but in a statement on social media the institution’s coordinators offered ‘our sincerest apologies to all the friends who left their works and archives with us – a lot of these were either burnt or water-damaged. It will take us a few days to assess the damage and think of our next moves.’
In 2017, in a presentation given at the Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong, cofounder Norberto Roldan said ‘Green Papaya will not become a self-perpetuating non-institution. Green Papaya has to die. And it is always helpful to plan your next steps when you already have a clear goal and end in mind. So Green Papaya is in the process of going through its assets, collating, cataloguing, and archiving, to later assess, critique, and share. This is our most important project right now.’