Our Islands: Martha Atienza, Norberto Roldan, and Pow Martinez Silverlens at South South 2021
For the inaugural SOUTH SOUTH 2021, Silverlens (Manila) presents three influential Southeast Asian artists: Martha Atienza, Norberto Roldan, and Pow Martinez. Working with a wide range of media and materials – from Atienza’s videos to Roldan’s assemblages of found objects and textiles, to Martinez’s oil paintings – they represent the diversity of practice across our art communities that are grassroots, sometimes chaotic, and always vibrant.
Aside from the Covid-19 pandemic that grounded life to a halt in 2020, the Philippine islands, where the artists reside, lies within the global sweet spot for natural calamities. The Taal Volcano eruption, devastating floods from a series of typhoons, one of which was called nationally called Ulysses, and a Christmas Day earthquake were all within the year’s calendar. This annual roll call of nature’s signs is a reminder that life on the islands is always on the brink.
Based between Bantayan Island in the Visayan Sea and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Martha Atienza’s practice explores installation and video as a way of documenting and questioning issues around environment, community, and development. Her work tends to be collaborative in nature; she works with people from different backgrounds and expertise, as well as with residents of Bantayan Island, where her family is from. Their collective narratives are intricately woven into issues such as environmental change, displacement, cultural loss, governance, and socio-economic disparities.
One of the pillars of contemporary art in Southeast Asia, Norberto Roldan’s practice is rooted in social and political issues. His installations, assemblages and paintings of found objects, text fragments, and found images address issues surrounding everyday life, history, and collective memory. His artistic process engages with ways in which material objects are re-appropriated in another context. In 2000, Roldan co-founded Green Papaya Art Projects, which remains to be the longest-running independent and multi-disciplinary platform in the country. Green Papaya is incidentally, the Asian beneficiary of SOUTH SOUTH’s Live Selling Event, VEZA.
A highly-sought artist of his generation, painter Pow Martinez makes colorful works that are known for their characters in landscapes of disintegration and urban scenarios. These paintings are based on the endless stream of social media #selfies, #throwbacks, #nofilters, and #blessed. They are parodies of life under lockdown – emotional, alive, rich.
Coming from the Philippines, where nature must be treated with utmost respect, the survival instinct and push to continue making art against all odds characterize these artists. Silverlens presents three recent videos by Martha Atienza, amplifying the link between climate change and migration; a prime selection of pieces by Norberto Roldan; and new paintings by Pow Martinez. IL
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