A River Waits Reply: Martha Atienza
Martha Atienza, Our Islands 11°16'58.4"N 123°45'07.0"E (2017):
Selected by Gasworks:
"This screening series comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic spreads fast across national borders and continents. It’s then no surprise that many of the works in the programme explore the darker forces underpinning an increased global interconnectivity. Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s camera in Marche Salomon (selected by PIVÔ, São Paulo) captured the ironies of post-colonial conditions in the Caribbean; whereas the uncanny urban landscapes in David Hartt’s The Republic (presented by MOCA Toronto) connected the dots between Athens and Detroit, two cities whose irreversible decline is marked by capitalist failure.
Shot in the waters near Bantayan Island (Philippines), Martha Atienza’s hallucinatory video work Our Islands 11°16’58.4″N 123°45’07.0″E (2017) recreates a religious procession on the ocean floor. Wearing original costumes from local parades, a group of divers travels sluggishly across the damaged coral. The surreal entourage includes figures ranging from a climate refugee affected by Typhoon Yolanda to an infant Jesus, a boxing champion or a drug dealer followed by President Duterte’s anti-drug squad. The grey and barren ocean floor is testament to the enormous social, economic and environmental changes affecting the region. As the island’s ecosystem is increasingly under threat, its inhabitants are forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods to look for opportunities elsewhere."
Martha Atienza (b. 1981, Manila) is an artist based in Bantayan Island, Philippines.
A River Waits Reply:
A screening series developed in partnership between seven
international arts organizations, A River Waits Reply presents
moving-image works from around the world as a poetic reply to this
unprecedented year. It is a year that has invited new modes of exchange
at a distance, and a long overdue reckoning with deep social and
political inequity that calls for new forms of solidarity.
All seven institutions will simultaneously host each video on their websites for the duration of one week, with the series as a whole extending over seven weeks. Each work has been selected by a partner organisation as a response to the videos that preceded it, producing a cascading sequence and a winding river of thought, interpreted through the aesthetic and social values of their respective cultural context.
The title of the series is borrowed from a poem by Emily Dickinson.