Deemed non-essential in a time of pandemic, artists are taking matters into their own hands. In this photographer-led effort, you not only get to own a print of their works, you essentially help them survive, too.
“Will this job be obsolete?” photographer Joseph Pascual ponders in our conversation bound by the blurring of night and day during the earlier stages of the mandated quarantine. Riddled with anxiety, uncertainty, and curiosity, this insomnia-driven crisis of existence was and still is a concern of many individuals, especially for creatives who are dependent on the now flimsy at best gig-economy. “I knew it wouldn’t be [obsolete],” Joseph Pascual furthers, as if nipping fear in the bud. “But this situation exposed another concern: Is your job logistically possible?”
Prior the pandemic, the bigger challenge was how does one remain relevant to the times, what with a landscape that constantly and consistently shifts. It is alarming, because on paper, the industries we navigate have been limited to being tagged a non-essential service, meaning it stands at the back of the line in the order of necessity, which is truly understandable, especially in the grander scheme of life as we know it today. Now, the worry is moored to the essential: How do we survive?
To remedy a mostly unemployed segment of the creative working force, especially since part and parcel of the job hinges on the physical, a collective of Filipino photographers launched Shelter Fund, a communal initiative that aims to look after the welfare of these dedicated visual storytellers of our times. Aggravated by the necessary but distressing extension of the enhanced community quarantine, which has pilfered through the pockets of our creatives, this undertaking was made to alleviate one’s survival mode.
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“Through the purchase of our prints, you help keep us safe in our homes, able to continue and contribute, and more importantly, all of us have committed to contributing part of our individual sales to a communal fund, making sure everyone is benefitted by your purchase,” details Shelter Fund. Carefully realized on archival photo paper, which is available in different sizes and prices, all prints are original works by the participating photographers, undersigned by them, no less. Featuring a robuster roster of Filipino photographers, a bunch of which we have worked a great deal with here at MEGA, a caveat is important to take note of when perusing their platforms: copyright of artworks posted remain the exclusive property of the artist. Any form of reproduction is prohibited, naturally.
As rich as our pool of talent and points-of-view are, the print sale offers a range of visual narratives that form the backbone of a bigger picture that encompasses many emotions, stories, and truths. Come to think of it, it is relief on many fronts—one for the endurance of art and its many forms, artists supporting artists, and of course, for the personal, which ultimately means poking a hole through the bubble of our concern-ridden thoughts.
We live in trying times, yes, but if there is anything we have learned from this snapshot of life filtered through a lens of photographers, it is that the creative spirit will not only adapt and find ways to subsist despite a hurdle of trials, but it will eventually thrive, as art has done time and time again. Confronted by the changing world, the story will continue, this time more informed and attuned to document history as it happens for everyone to remember well past the pandemic.