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At Maculangan |

Arts and Culture

At Maculangan

Raymond Ang - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The process of working with found objects came before photography for At Maculangan, one of the country’s most respected lensmen.

As a student at the University of Santo Tomas’ Fine Arts program, he majored in painting, later finding himself drawn to mixed media work and working with found objects. After graduation, he decided to study film, in an effort to demystify the movies he watched and found himself intensely affected by. And when, at 20, he moved to Italy and lived there for 15 years, he turned to performance art to “maintain [his] being as an artist, kahit wala akong audience.”

When he finally returned to the Philippines at 35, he had to start from zero again. “I needed to have something to do,” he says. “I needed to earn.” Just like that, he took up photography.

Through the years, At Maculangan has established himself as one of Manila’s most respected photographers, the kind of visionary who finds a way to create personal work and commercial work in the same space, almost seamlessly and without compromise. “I think photography is the closest medium kasi ginagawa ko siya on a daily basis. Ito yung pinaka malapit,” he says. “I think kung gusto mo talaga i-pursue yung life in art, in any manner or medium it will come out.”

In his 20s, for example, a restless At, largely divorced from his art practice in Italy, found a way to create “very personal” work with performance art. “Gusto ko pa rin ma-pursue yung practice ko as an artist for myself.” For a year, he did a performance working in a metal fabrication factory. “I announced officially. ‘I’m doing a performance’ pero walang audience. I mean, the audience were my co-workers but they didn’t know.” It went until the ninth month of the projected 12-month performance, when he got into an accident. “Nabagsakan yung paa ko ng bakal,” he says.

In the same way that his college-aged mixed media work made use of the found objects he saw and hinged narratives on, At Maculangan’s photography work comes alive in the moments he stumbles upon, moments as found objects. In a way, the process hasn’t changed, just his way of capturing and reacting to what’s around him.

“I think mas importante yung spirit while you’re doing it, that you captured the right moment… Behind that photograph, interesado ako dun sa moment. May works ako na stine-stage pero mas interesado ako dun sa moment na ma-catch ko.”

For Art Fair Philippines 2016, he explores a project that began when he was commissioned to shoot for artist Paul Pfeiffer’s project in Bangkok. “It was a documentary of the Foley artist,” he says. “The Foley room itself is a piece of art…. Dun ako naging interested.”


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