Marika Constantino is an artist who has participated in significant exhibitions in the Philippines and abroad. As a freelance writer, she contributes to a number of globally distributed publications. She shares her various experiences in the art practice to a wider audience as an educator. As an extension of her art practice, she also works as an independent curator and researcher. Her early exposure to art and her boundless fascination for the creative process resulted with a degree from the UP College of Architecture to further studies at the UP College of Fine Arts, with Art History as her major. Constantino is continually striving to strike the balance between the cerebral, conceptual and experiential aspects of art with life in general which fuels her fervent passion for artistic endeavors. Aside from her individual art practice, much of her time is devoted to co-directing the programs and activities of 98B COLLABoratory and coordinating the undertakings of the First United Building Community Museum in Escolta, Manila.
Artists are integral members of society. Their senses are deeply engaged when confronted with injustice, mediocrity, inequality, self-interests, discrimination, violence, greed, and other human frailties. Due to their distinct sensibility and sensitivity, they have the capacity to attest, react, and respond through means, media, and voices that can facilitate provocation, transformation, and dialogue. Artists express sentiments and testaments beyond statistics and data. They are narrators of various stories and enable bridging the gaps between past, present, and future. Artists elect to implicate themselves in the moment. They immerse their minds, bodies, and souls within consequential actions, tumultuous events, or critical conversations.
Artists are not mere bystanders. Their consciousness, once roused, provokes contemplation and interpolation. From mere observers they become active players in history and humanity. Art can depict apprehensions as well as ideals and even the affirmation of beliefs and values. Artists’ commitment to engage these ideas is part of their connection with society. As artists, they inquire, interrogate and examine; their eye for detail, inquisitive nature and instinctive explorations lead them towards particular positions. Their creations are testaments of their thoughts, reactions, perceptions, and, at times, call to action.
More importantly, artists’ works create platforms for discussions around crucial matters. For them, art is not an end in itself, but rather interventions and tools to generate understanding and meaning. The result is an exchange between the audience and artist. Learning is reciprocal in this exchange as the artist can also gaze back on the work as an observer.
Yet artists do not need to preoccupy themselves constantly with grand matters. Occasionally, they address the individual or local in their art with equal passion for national or international problems. As Dante stated, “From a tiny spark may burst a mighty flame.”1 Artists help ignite those sparks in their work with potential for consequential thought and discussions.
I confess that I am an artist, and a witness to days gone by, happening and forthcoming.
- Dante Alighieri, Paradise, Canto I, line 34. in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 670