Martha Atienza
Carina Santos (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – As an artist, Martha Atienza is in a unique position of being a conceptual, contemporary thinker and maker who overtly concerns herself with social questions, addressing and investigating these issues directly with her art. Born to a Dutch mother and a Filipino father, Atienza’s life began, perhaps, and continues to be a conversation between two very different worlds. She shuttles between the Netherlands and Cebu, a constant “stranger” in each space she inhabits, which informs and pervades her work.

Atienza’s work is immediately arresting, the full weight of which settles within one’s body when the meaning and the story is revealed. For Art Fair Philippines last year, Atienza showed with Silverlens Gallery. Her work, “Newfoundland N 47° 9’ 35.424”, W 49° 55’ 18.75,” ” was a beautiful seascape presented in slow motion, filmed while she was onboard a cargo vessel. Earlier, in 2014, she presented “Endless Hours at Sea,” a multi-sensory installation and culmination of the four residencies she was granted in 2013 and 2014 from the UK, Melbourne, New York, and Singapore.

With “Endless Hours at Sea,” Atienza shares the first words a captain shared with her on her first journey in 2010: “Being on a ship is killing time.” Atienza’s work involves and requires patience, and a recognition and acceptance of the passage of time and space, and in her words, “the state in between of being nowhere.”

Although she largely uses video as a medium, Atienza’s work is not limited to it, delivering the message and her story using whatever best facilitates it. She held her first solo exhibit with Silverlens Gallery, her representing gallery, last year. In “Study in Reality No. 3,” she explores the relationship of sound, motion, and sight, presenting what seems to be a deconstruction of her own experience with a tropical storm, Typhoon Hagupit, that raged through her father’s hometown of Bantayan Island in 2014. Atienza and her mother spent two days in a garden shed, where Atienza filmed her experience of the storm through a peephole. The resulting work explores the translation of experience as an image, and “how image can re-inhabit the jurisdiction of the real.” It also questions how we deal with our reality. Currently, Atienza is “investigating the usage of contemporary art as a tool for effecting social change and development.”

It was also in 2015 that she was named one of the recipients of CCP’s Thirteen Artists Award, perhaps the most meaningful recognition given to an artist under 40 years old in the Philippines. For Art Fair Philippines 2016, Atienza continues her conversation with the ocean, creating a large-scale installation.

 

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