Published in the Philippine Canadian Inquirer, May 12 2012 by Irwin Cruz
Photographer Liza Linklater will hold ‘Philippine Portraits’, a photography exhibition at ZoomExposure, Ottawa from May 11 – 26.
A series of 15 accented black-and-white photographs of Filipinos of various ages and professions, it is the culmination of a 14-month-long portraiture project was taken during Linklater’s four year stay in the Philippines.
Linklater, who is also a visual anthropologist and writer, has participated in nearly 30 shows, including eight solo exhibitions, in various galleries and spaces in Canada, Thailand and the Philippines.
First shown at the Ayala Foundation’s Filipinas Heritage Library in Makati, Philippines, her ‘Philippine Portraits’ will be unveiled in North America for the first time in a two-week long show at the Canadian capital.
From softball players and ‘takatak’ boys to nuns and skateboarding teenagers, the suite presents everyday Filipinos in the middle of work or play, pausing to pose for the curious, genial gaze of the camera.
What results is a veracious witnessing of the country and its people in images where the sense of pride and character that is decidedly Filipino are palpable. For example, a shot of a jeepney driver who plies his trade along Makati City’s Guadalupe-Del Pan route gives a semblance the nation’s ready propensity for mirthfulness.
“The thing that is so very special about the Philippines is its welcoming, friendly, creative, forgiving, kind and resilient people. The landscape is magnificent too but the country is really about its people,” Linklater says.
The photographer has travelled extensively in Asia – living in the continent for more than 12 years – and has also taken photographs of quotidian life from the mountains of Ladakh and Tibet to the streets of Bangkok and Colombo. Many of these projects have appeared in publications both in Asia and North America.
But this show is hardly travel photography. It is photography whose strain stems from that long tradition of portraiture that seeks out the gravitas of the man and woman of the street, as grandly epitomised by German photographer August Sander in his series ‘People of the 20th Century’.
As Linklater notes, “every day these hard-working people get up and work to support their families. It is these daily occupations and the dignity and pride that attach to even the humblest of tasks that I have tried to capture in my photographs.”
‘Philippine Portraits’ runs from May 11 – 26 at ZoomExposure, 2ndFloor, 391a Bank Street, 2nd Floor, Ottawa.
Irwin Cruz writes about Philippine art.