One of the more attention-grabbing pieces at the 2018 Ateneo Art Awards is Robert Langenegger’s Only Dog Can Judge Me: a still life of a feast of meat and dog food painted on a framed canvas.
The eye is drawn downward to a chain-link leash that dangles at the bottom-right corner of the wooden frame. On the other end of it, a sculpture of a female dog, clearly starving, her ribs visible behind sagging teats, as her child looks at her, begging for sustenance she cannot provide.
In breaking the traditional barrier between two art forms, Langenegger drew attention to a far deeper one, how the hungry are forced to simply dream of food that they are prevented from getting.
Transcending barriers appears to be a theme among the shortlisted finalists for the Ateneo Art Awards, a yearly recognition of the year’s finest exhibits from some of the country’s most promising artists.
In Ian Carlo Jaucian’s Viral Automata, for instance, simplistic robots are programmed with viruses and made to interact with each other, their movements and colors dictated by the code. Their motions, at first erratic, begin to mimic those of biological viruses, blurring the distinction between life and simulacra and, in turn, the distinction between engineering and art.
Johanna Helmuth’s Makeshift, on the other hand, displays the artist’s fascination with how people
adapt the things around them for purposes more aligned with personal survival rather than its intent.
One of the most personal pieces is a pedicab carriage converted into a home—a practice the artist herself grew up observing among the drivers near her home, amplified for the exhibit. Helmuth’s carriage is decorated in glossy linen and embroidered cotton, with decorative plastic knickknacks hanging off the frame.
And in Elias Miles Villanueva’s "What’s Left of It," a joke is played out as art, challenging the notion of art itself as the artist’s “tiredness of painting” is expressed in broken pieces of glass, decorated and haphazardly assembled inside glass cases.
He questions whether the virtue of being displayed, with playful titles attached to each one, qualifies his pieces as art, continuously playing with the idea of context creating purpose.
This year’s other finalists include Mars Bugaoan’s Becoming, Ronson Culibrina’s Talim, Dina Gadia’s Situation Amongst the Furnishings, Issay Rodriguez’s …, Ciron Señeres’ Gray Horizon, Jel Suarez’ Traces by Which We Remember, Kolown’s Low Pressured Areas, and Bea Camacho’s Memento Obliviscere.
Three of the 12 nominees will receive the Fernando Zobel Prizes for Visual Art, and will be eligible for residency grants at La Trobe Art Institute in Bendigo, Australia;
This year, the Embassy of Italy joins the Ateneo Art Awards as a new partner, and Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino will select one of the nominees as the winner of the Embassy of Italy Purchase Prize, creating even more opportunities for talented up-and-comers.
The 2018 Ateneo Art Awards will also recognize six of the past year’s most intriguing pieces of art criticism, with Alec Madelene Abarro, Juan Paolo Colet, Jayvee Del Rosario, Mary Jessel Duque, Sabrina Jeongco, and Jose Carlos Joaquin Sison as nominees for the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes in Art Criticism; and a special citation for Maria Lourdes Garcellano.
One winner will be given a semi-monthly column in the Philippine Star for one year; while another will be given a regular column in the bi-monthly ArtAsiaPacific Magazine, also for one year.
The 2018 Ateneo Art Awards exhibit will be open to the public at the Grand Atrium of the Shangri-La Plaza till July 30, 2018, and from August 10 to November 4,