Ateneo Art Awards: Questionably "unbound"

The mid-August Ateneo Art Awards exhibition "Anatomy of Autonomy" at the Shangri-La Plaza was obviously a tough show to pull off. The MRT-gateway Shang with its upscale, commercial stores and visitors from mixed demographics is not an ideal place to house contemporary art pieces detached from their "natural" environments, i.e. their original galleries. But the curators' best was manifest, especially in the way they included as many components of the pieces from their locales in this temporary area. It also drew the most unexpected onlookers, and made art a wee bit more accessible.

Ateneo Art Awards 2011 at the Shangri-La Plaza Grand Atrium.
Whether this whole attempt does something to promote well-defined standards in art, however, is arguable. This description of the recognition, with the use of the phrase "unbound by ... dogma" makes my judgment tentative.
On its eighth year, the Ateneo Art Awards takes the theme "Anatomy of Autonomy," dissecting and surveying artistic thought in the contemporary Philippine art scene. Unbound by any cultural, social, academic or even aesthetic dogma, the creative spirit of young Filipino visual artists is duly recognized.
Call this question amateur (see the title of the blog), but if it would not be governed by any sort of criteria, which creed would the jury follow? The dogma of no dogma at all? I'll leave that open.

But when I heard this year's exhibit of shortlisted nominees which included now-awardee Kawayan de Guia (whose works are ever so clever), folk visual narrator Rodel Tapaya and Bembol dela Cruz was about to be in the area where I live, I knew I had to see it no matter what.

Renato Barja Jr (2010) Life in a Suitcase. Found object and oil on board

MM Yu (2009). A Few of My Favorite Things. Print

Bembol dela Cruz (2011). from House Blends.
Rodel Tapaya (2010) Baptism, detail. Acrylic on canvas
Nona Garcia (2010). One Off. Oil on canvas
Kawayan de Guia (2010). Bomba. Mixed media & multimedia
Other works not pictured above that were also fascinating were Olivia D'Aboville's depictions of deep sea creatures made of plastic spoons and nylon and Frank Callaghan's dreamy photographs that transform how we can look at the Pasig River. And a few were either unsightly or too disparate from their original settings to be fully appreciated. The rest of the nominees are listed here. #

All photos by Camille Diola. Please cite Creative Commons license for use.

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