“Equation of State” by Martha Atienza
Martha Atienza’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, titled Equation of State.
Since winning the Baloise Prize in Art Basel Statements in 2017, Atienza has been extensively participating in international exhibitions, among which include 2018 Asia Project: How Little You Know About Me, MMCA, Korea (2018); No Man’s Land, MUDAM, Luxembourg (2018); Fair Isles, solo exhibition, Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden, Center for Contemporary Art, Germany (2018); Bienal de Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2018); Taipei Biennale: Post-Nature – A Museum as an Ecosystem, Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2018); 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, QAGOMA, Brisbane (2018); and Honolulu Biennial: To Make Wrong / Right / Now, Honolulu, Hawaii (2019).
Featuring new videos and kinetic mangrove plant baths, Equation of State finds Atienza back at Bantayan Island in Cebu, Philippines, documenting how climate change is affecting the island and its inhabitants.
“In Equation of State, Martha Atienza examines the interaction between humans and the environment, documenting both their decline and resiliency. It is a tense relationship, expressed in the material and immaterial. In this new work, Atienza presents a survey of Bantayan Island’s coastline, highlighting climate change from a layered perspective. Referring to an equation that calculates the relationship between variables and a given set of physical conditions, Equation of State is an attempt to make sense of warming oceanic temperatures and subsequent rising sea levels.
Churches, bangka’s, basketball courts, sea walls and houses in various states of decay. All are observed as the camera slowly traverses the island group’s coast. Alongside this single channel video, is a 3-channel piece depicting fishermen as an allegory for resiliency as they struggle in rough waters. Surrounding the video works are nineteen mangrove plants whose movements are mechanically manipulated. An Arduino programmed mechanism pulls the plants in and out of water-filled pools, artificially mimicking tidal patterns that in their natural state would submerge the mangroves 30% of their lifespan. Known to thrive in warm waters, mangroves possess the capacity to store carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Rhizophora stylosa, the most commonly planted mangrove species in the Philippines, illustrates private and public sector intervention of ecosystems.
Through the documentation of Bantayan Island’s coastal conditions, both human and environmental, and the recontextualizing of mangrove plants, Equation of State creates an experience which asks us to question environmental management and socio-economic development.”
– Jake Atienza