SEA, SWAL­LOW ME

Town & Country (Philippines) - - OUT & ABOUT -

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; info@sil­ver­lens­gal­leries.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.

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