SEA, SWALLOW ME
Martha Atienza’s Fair Isle 59°41’20.0”N
2°36’23.0”W was one of the most talked about pieces at last year’s Art Fair Philippines, and for good reason. Her massive video installation, an hour-long video of crashing ocean waves set in slow motion, was beguiling, hypnotic, and entrancing. This month, the Dutch-Filipina artist unveils her latest video work, Our Islands 11°16'58.4”N 123°45'07.0”E, at Art Basel in Switzerland, representing Silverlens, which participates in the prestigious art fair for the second time. While Our Islands shares a similar naming convention with Fair Isle—the current work’s GPS coordinates point to Bantayan Island in the Visayas—it shares more in common with Atienza’s Anito, a film first released in 2009 that is continually updated with references to current social issues. Our Islands is Atienza’s reflection on destructive human behavior that has led to global warming and its effects on the environment, including rising sea levels and loss of marine life. It has a human cost too, as livelihoods are affected, communities ultimately abandoned, and cultures, lost. The video has a surreal feel; various figures such as the Santo Niño and Manny Pacquiao are portrayed by costumed men seemingly in a trance, all making their way on an undersea procession, “a protest against our global climate change and our local cultural decay.” Atienza, a recipient of the Thirteen Artists award by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2015, was recently shortlisted for the Benesse Art Prize during the Singapore Biennale. She received the Ateneo Art Award in 2016, repeating her triumph at the 2012 edition. June 15 to 18, Art Basel, Messeplatz, Switzerland; artbasel.com. silverlensgalleries.com; email@example.com.
ACROSS ThE OCEAN From top: Video still of Our Islands; Filipina-Dutch artist Martha Atienza; rebuilding in a marine protected area in Cebu; Atienza with the women of Bantayan island, Cebu.