Mir­rors on the Wall

Filipino artists re­flect on Philip­pine so­ci­ety at the Sin­ga­pore Bi­en­nale 2016


“End­less Hours at Sea” Martha Atienza

Martha Atienza’s fa­ther was a light­house keeper and her fam­ily was in­volved in the maritime in­dus­try. “End­less Hours at Sea” is a nos­tal­gic mul­ti­me­dia in­stal­la­tion ex­plor­ing not only her per­sonal voy­ages but the di­as­pora of al­most half a mil­lion Filipino work­ers, oceans apart from their moth­er­land. Atienza’s work is not just de­void of time but also of a sense of space, per­haps to evoke the idea of nowhere.

“Kara­gatan (The Breadth of Oceans)” Gre­gory Halili

With the Philip­pines sur­rounded by wa­ter, Gre­gory Halili’s “Kara­gatan” se­ries re­volves around the sea and the peo­ple who live by and through it. He painted im­ages of his sea­far­ing sub­jects, most of whom live in des­ti­tu­tion, on pre­cious mother-of­pearl, which harks back to their no­ble pro­fes­sion. Look­ing into these minia­ture eyes, there’s a sense of melan­choly in how they stare back at the viewer.

“The Hunters En­ter the Woods” Patty Eus­taquio

From afar, Patty Eus­taquio’s work re­sem­bles a Rorschach test. If it were one, it could be in­ter­preted as the in­tri­cate tail of a Si­amese fight­ing fish. Upon closer in­spec­tion, you’ll see de­tails of en­dan­gered species painted on two pan­els: the Paphio­pe­dilum fowliei on the left side and an orchid hy­brid on the right. Eus­taquio pon­ders on man’s ob­ses­sion with col­lect­ing orchids to ma­nip­u­late their growth out­side their nat­u­ral habi­tat.

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