In “Eye of the Storm”, Filipino artist BITTO presents a series of works that are tense and yet manages to evoke jest, while capturing his viewpoint from the still and quiet centre of a storm. It shifts from observing the thick atmospheric mess of social media: online misinformation and disinformation, shaky verification of truths, and alternative facts among others, to the political climate of the Philippines at large.
‘Resilient’ is an apt word when one thinks about the archipelagic islands northeast of Singapore.The reputation of this tropical country as seen in the news, usually with typhoon footage, is that of smiling people waving at the camera as a silent promise of bouncing right back up again in the face of adversity. However, BITTO centres on another kind of storm – the whirlwind of politics in the Philippines.
As we go about our daily lives, we are subtly dictated by and adjusting to external factors – like the weather. These factors could manifest as easily as choosing clothes to stay warm and dry, or as steeling ourselves for what is yet to come. The month of June brings heavy grey clouds upon BITTO’s provenance. He forecasts, and in the process, foreshadows an impending grim precipitation. There is a new fashion trend to keep up with the times, and it functions as both everyday wear and protection.
In “Eye of the Storm”, his characters are seen shedding raincoats for bulletproof vests, preparing for disaster and managing risks in a hyperbolic manner. The debris of this tempest is unique compared to the uprooted trees, windswept houses, and un-passable roads people are used to. In the last few years, rain bullets have devastated the land. Within these small but constant showers that happen suddenly and without warning, a simple umbrella would not suffice..
A lighthearted take on grim circumstances.
Artworks pose as weather reports – showcasing the resilience of citizens, while exposing true feelings of thinly veiled desensitisation bubbling within. We cope by camouflaging real concern and anxiousness with humour, and turn to social media, live-streaming while still caught in the middle of calamity to counter our helplessness.
BITTO believes that new attitudes regarding our vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters will materialise at the end of June. Approaching finality is a resurgence from the country’s arduous past. Although the sky is dark, life goes on in the Philippines. Despite this endless rain, BITTO sets his sight on emphasising the genuine desire to survive and still find enjoyment in each day.
Eye of the Storm runs from 25th June to 17th July 2022 at UltraSuperNew Gallery. More information available here