Arts & Culture

Filipino Artist Martha Atienza Wins Baloise Prize at Art Basel

Various figures portraying the Santo Niño and Manny Pacquiao take part in an undersea procession.
IMAGE Martha Atienza / Silverlens

Dutch-Filipino artist Martha Atienza's latest video work, Our Islands 11°16'58.4”N 123°45'07.0”E,  has won the prestigious Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel in Switzerland.

The prize recognizes young artists from the Statement sector of Art Basel. American artist Sam Pulitzer also won the prize.

As a winner, Atienza gets the opportunity to have her video acquired by the Baloise Group and donated to two very important museums in Europe, the Nationalgalerie - Staatcliche Museen zu Berlin and the MUDAM in Luxembourg, where it will be displayed. 

Filipina-Dutch artist Martha Atienza; rebuilding in a marine protected area in Cebu

Our Islands is Atienza’s reflection on destructive human behavior that has led to global warming and its effects on the environment, including rising sea levels and loss of marine life. It has a human cost too, as livelihoods are affected, communities ultimately abandoned, and cultures, lost.

Atienza with the women of Bantayan island, Cebu

The video has a surreal feel; various figures such as the Santo Niño and Manny Pacquiao are portrayed by costumed men seemingly in a trance, all making their way on an undersea procession, “a protest against our global climate change and our local cultural decay.”

A video still of Our Islands

Atienza, a recipient of the Thirteen Artists award by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2015, was recently shortlisted for the Benesse Art Prize during the Singapore Biennale. She received the Ateneo Art Award in 2016, repeating her triumph at the 2012 edition.

At Art Basel, Atienza is representing Silverlens Gallery, which is participating in the prestigious art fair for the second time.

June 15 to 18, Art Basel, Messeplatz, Switzerland;; [email protected].

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Pierre A. Calasanz
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