Primarily drawn to street photography and documenting the everyday, MM Yu’s photographs evoke the ever-changing cultural texture and topology of Manila as seen through its inhabitants, the city’s infrastructure and its waste product as it archives not only the economy but also the ecology of life in the myriad forms it takes in the city.
The hybrid and density of MM Yu’s subjects remind us of how objects and signs are not necessarily self-contained but take part in larger systems of interaction. These recorded static scenarios show through their thematic variety the artist’s interest in discovering and valuing the fleeting moment present even in its simplest components. Through her ongoing interest in deciphering the enigma of the unseen landscape of ordinary things, they also force us to rethink what our minds already know and rediscover what our eyes have already seen.
Many of her photographs are semi-autobiographical. The images for this exhibit were selected from a much larger number of photographs she took while documenting her grandmother’s home before it was sold. MM Yu and her extended family left personal belongings in that house throughout the decades. Upon visiting the site, she discovered that it had been looted on several occasions, yet she continued to document the interior and its contents as the last records she could have of these family ephemera. Looking at them closely, we see traces and clues of her family history: religion, language, musical scores, preciously framed portraits, and the architecture of the period. Along with her, we feel the nostalgia together with the loss.
MM Yu has worked between photography and painting since obtaining her degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines in 2001. Her works in both media tackle the nuances achieved between composition and color as they occupy the frame. Yu is a recipient of the Cultural Center of the Philippines 13 Artist Awards (2009), the Ateneo Art Awards (winner in 2007, shortlisted in 2011/2012), is a Sovereign Asian Art Prize finalist (2010) and a recipient of the Goethe-Institute- Climate Change workshop grant (2014). She has completed residencies with Big Sky Mind, Manila (2003), Common Room Bandung Residency Grant (2007) and Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France (2013). Her works have been presented at numerous solo and group exhibitions in the Philippines.