Tackled in this art collection by student artists is the haunting question ‘how can we have a new beginning if we don’t move?’
In March, it has been exactly a year since the Philippines has gone into lockdown. For a short while the restriction policy was lifted, however, it has been reimplemented once again.
The pandemic did not only take many lives. It has also brought down the economy. Can we really afford another lockdown? The answer is obvious. And yet, as it stands, the country has no immediate alternatives. Even with the availability of a vaccine, we are back to where we started. Our hopes crushed as more COVID-19 variants, cases, and casualties surface.
While it is easy to argue that the health crisis is worsening all over the world, this is no excuse. A failure is a failure. Having no progress against the deadly disease, we are becoming more restless by the day. We grow discontent, dissatisfied, mad, which are, all things considered, normal reactions.
Prisoners of our own homes, we long for freedom. That is exactly what the online collection “Galaw! Galaw!” reflects. “Galaw! Galaw! is about the craving of human bodies to be released and to move out from the corners of the walls this pandemic has caused,” explains Lem Atienza, the creative director and head of the project. Through this exhibit, the 21-year-old photographer along other student artists ask, “Given the Manila lockdown, how can we artistically strive if we’re literally boxed at home?’
Working together to put up the display are Jheco Lorica of Far Eastern University (FEU), Ikatlo Olis of Technological University of the Philippines (TUP), Lorenz Rigonan of the University of the Philippines (UP), Joshua Baldomero of University of Santo Thomas (UST) and Lem, who is a third-year digital film student at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (CSB).
‘Latched within our skins is the anxiety for the future. As we float awake in the dark waters of our lives’ uncertainty, we shall vigorously move our way out of stagnancy and danger.’
Lem also mentions that the digital exhibit is a commentary on the government’s slow-paced efforts in alleviating the effects of the health crisis in the country. “The thematic statement of ‘having a new beginning for Filipino artists through movement’ has led us to make a call of action to our government: that artists and the arts are the souls of our society and that we’re no exception in dealing with struggles, may it be mental, physical, or financial,” he says.
There are nine-paintings grouped in triptychs: Kumawala Kung Mawala (2021) by Ikatlo, Blue Washes (2021) by Lorenz, and Ahon (2021) by Jheco. Also included are photographs by Lem featuring fashion pieces from Kelvin Morales’ fall-winter 2021 “Human Leather” collection and spring-summer “Penetration” collection, with accessories handmade by Joshua of CraftStudioPH.
Through the photos and art pieces, Lem and his peers want to evoke an unapologetic awareness of what is being stolen from them and other young artists by the health emergency—their youth and chance to flourish in their craft. “Slowly but surely, we’ll be mobilizing ourselves from the stagnancy this pandemic has caused us, but when are we going to be released from the shackles of this pandemic?” Lem asks.
As Lem puts it, “Galaw! Galaw! is an outlet and an awakening for people that we can crusade through this crisis with art. We can move metaphorically. Then, the physicality will follow when it’s safer.”
The artworks and photos are available on Facebook @LemAtienzaPhotography and at www.lematienza.com.