ATIENZA, Martha; Our Islands 11°16'58.4"N 123°45'07.0"E
Martha Atienza’s Our Islands 11°16’58.4”N 123°45’07.0”E 2017 recreates the annual Ati-Atihan festival in the village of Madridejos on Bantayan Island in the Philippines. The parade honours the infant Jesus (Santo Niño), whose likeness is blessed by the local priest and carried through the town. Atienza’s film depicts a dreamlike procession beneath the sea, with the participants pushing against the water as if in a trance. Heading the procession is a man dressed as Santo Niño; he is followed by Christ carrying a bamboo cross; an overseas foreign worker (OFW); an international seafarer; a survivor of 2013’s super typhoon Yolanda; and a drug lord, menaced by President Duterte’s anti-drug squad pointing guns at his head. All the costumes represent responses to current events and issues.
Atienza has been working with her community since 2010, using video as a tool for social change. Drawing attention to the plight of the fishermen and their families, she highlights the effects of environmental change on the community. Once plentiful, fish have become scarce in the waters of the Philippine archipelago, threatening incomes and food supplies. Many families have also been forced to move their homes inland to avoid the encroaching sea. In Atienza’s film – as in real life – the men breathe through makeshift compression hoses, a dangerous technique often used by fishermen that can easily result in death or injury.