YOD Gallery, Osaka
Metro Manila, the Philippine Capital, is a chaotic sprawl of 16 cities and one municipality. The artist Martin Honasan lives and works in Marikina, which is considered the most orderly city within Manila’s tangle of haphazard urban planning and socioeconomic disparity.
Every year the typhoon season disrupts the orderliness. The Marikina River floods most of the city, destroying homes and businesses. Due to its basin-like topography, the city often suffers terrible destruction. The devastation has reached unreasonable levels in the past decade, unjustified in an age when most of Southeast Asia is catching up to the developed world in terms of infrastructure.
Martin Honasan’s works in River were done through his lens as a lifelong Marikenyo. This series, comprised mostly of new fabric cuttings mixed with old ones left over from previous work, have been subjected to rough handling — soaked, molded, pasted, dyed, punctured, and ripped. Layers of paint in most colors dissolve into mud, analogous to the muck and mildew clinging to structures, interiors, and possessions after the worst floods. The fragments are gathered and into a collage on stretched canvases. Honasan then takes these seemingly futile surfaces and renders the faces of fellow Marikenyos along with his own. The resulting images are a continuation of his existing practice of forcing order out of chaos, exploring the tension between the heavy textures and faces. The whole process yields new portions of canvas sheddings which are set aside for future use.
Marikenyos, like the rest of the Philippines, have accepted the annual floods as a matter of course. They emerge from their homes when the skies clear, and survey the damage—houses caked in mud up to rooftops, fallen trees, dangerously tangled electrical wires, and abandoned cars. After the debris has been cleared, what remains salvageable is gathered and rebuilt.