For the Dutch-Filipina artist, water is germ and pivot but also, ultimately, survival. It is the fantastic and fearsome wellspring of the people of her hometown in Bantayan Island in Madridejos, Cebu. The home country of Atienza's mother and now also the other home of the artist, the Netherlands, is another country shaped by the elemental agent of water. Thus the immensity of the sea vis a vis our physical and emotional relationship with it remains a constant obsession for the artist. She is attentive witness and patient chronicler of the people of Bantayan whose lives revolve around the ocean's bounty and temperament, and also the navigator travelling across the seas and oceans on boats and cargo ships. Through sound and the moving image, Atienza creates works of sociological nature, reflecting a keen observation of her immediate environment.
Two video works shot on the North Atlantic Ocean will be presented for the first time in this exhibition. With keen observation of her immediate environment, Atienza reveals the ocean under overcast sky, slowly fluctuating away. The scene is poetic and mysterious, gentle yet unsettle, arousing the human nostalgia for the sea. There are no narratives but rather propositions of narratives and questionings of unexplored terrain, pondering over how human societies have been shaped by travelling and migration. The power hidden beneath the peaceful sea surface remains respectable no matter how advanced human civilization has become.
Born 1981 in Manila, the Philippines, Martha Atienza received her BFA from the AKI Academy of Art and Design in Enschede , the Netherlands and has participated in the art programme at the Kuvataideakatemia of the University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland. In 2015, she received the Thirteen Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and in 2012, she received the Ateneo Arts Award, with residency grants in Liverpool, Melbourne, New York and Singapore. In 2016, she was the recipient of the first Mercedes Zobel/Outset residency at the Gaswork Gallery (London). She lives and works in Bantayan Island, the Philippines and Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Recently, she received the Baloise Art Prize with her show in Art Basel in Basel 2017.
Press release courtesy Mind Set Art Center.