Martha Atienza (b. 1981) in Manila, Philippines to a Dutch mother and Filipino father, has moved between both countries and cultures throughout her life. Currently she resides both in the Netherlands and the Philippines, dependent on where her projects bring her.
In a little over a decade, Martha Atienza has produced a body of work that not only reveals the expanse of her artistic process but also strikes a chord of sentiment from her audience. From boarding ships since 2010, her video installations of cargo vessels and fishing boats in the Philippines and riverboats in the Netherlands (Endless Hours at Sea, 2014); from the Mississippi River passing between Florida and Cuba, towards the coast of the US to Newfoundland (Newfoundland N 47°9’35.424” W 49°55’18.75”, 2015), are meditative. Her continuous single frame long-series videos of oceans, hypnotic reminders of the power of the elements, transfix. An on-going documentation of the annual island Ati-atihan festival by Atienza, has produced Anito 1 (2011-2015) and Anito 2 (2017), a traditional celebration that slowly turns carnivalesque. From the Anito series was borne Our Islands 11°16’58.4 N 123°45’07.0 E (2017) a subaquatic religious procession passing by as if in an aquarium: Christ carrying the cross, men in women’s clothes and demonstrators carrying tableaux with political slogans, threatened from behind by menacing, armed henchman. Through her cast of characters and choice of setting, Atienza presents a both critical and humorous take not only on the state of society in the Philippines but also on the threat of climate change to which the country is increasingly exposed through the warming of the world’s oceans.
Martha Atienza’s artistic practice navigates a time and space of her family of seafarers where (her grandfather was a lighthouse watcher in the Visayan Sea of the Philippines, her father sea cptain, and her Dutch mother who worked for the Holland America Line) both lands and seas from where they come carry a story of historical migration, cultural identity, and now, current social and political state of affairs in the Philippines.
Recent and ongoing exhibitions include the 9th Asia Pacific Triennale (Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane), Taipei Biennale (Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei). Fair Isles (Nassauischer Kunstverein Center, Weisbaden), and and 2018 Asia Project: How Little You Know About Me (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul), Korea. In 2017, Martha Atienza was awarded of the Baloise Art Prize in Art Basel for which her work was collected and included in the exhibition No Man’s Land at the Musee D’art Modern Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM), Luxembourg. In 2016, for the Singapore Biennale, she was shortlisted for the Benesse Art Prize (Japan). And in the same year, she received the first Mercedes Zobel/Outset Residency at Gasworks (London). In 2015, she was given the Thirteen Artists Award by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila). In 2012 and 2016, she received the Ateneo Arts Award with studio Residency Grants in Liverpool, Melbourne, New York and Singapore, (Ateneo Art Gallery, Manila). In 2006, Atienza received her Bachelor in Mixed Media and Media Art from the Academy Of Visual Arts and Design (AKI, Enschede), Netherlands.
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