It was on a regular afternoon trip to our town market when I happened to pass by some images of strangers glued on walls along the streets of Rosario, Cavite – all scrunched-face, staring down at piles of garbage on the street. It was an interesting sight that somehow stirs humor and wit at first glance, but the longer you stare, the harder it hits you: these images are trying to tell us something.
A few days after I saw the portraits, I stumbled upon a viral post on Facebook with these images on. I learned that behind this project is a 24-year-old freelance photographer based in Dasmariñas, Cavite. The young artist, who goes by the pseudonym Abes Doesn’t Matter, has been up to something significant and timely: raising awareness and challenging the minds of the public passersby through traditional and contemporary mixed media called wheatpasting.
Having been juggling his time with a day job that’s not related to the creative field, Abes relies on pure passion and his love for art to make time for his craft and continuously create art.
“I am still an aspiring photographer and artist, so you could expect more from me this year. I’ve been enjoying the concept of public art, so I’m planning to produce more art in the streets, especially in Cavite where I was raised. I am still wrapping up more photography & wheatpaste projects, and as usual, I will try my best to be more interactive and relevant than my previous works”
Though most of his works are done independently, WLRS Crew, a collective of street artists from Cavite, represents Abes.
His first portraiture and wheatpaste project, “A Portraiture and Wheatpaste Study on the Said Contagious Effects of Yawning,” also included a series of portraits along the streets of Bacoor, Imus, and Palapala, Cavite, which were put up last March 2018. That time, Abes featured yawning people in his images, taking inspiration from the lyrics “I never sleep, ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death” by American rapper and songwriter Nas.
“If These Walls Could Talk” is his second portraiture and wheatpaste project. According to him, the objective of the project is to catch more attention from the people passing by, and it’s been serving both purpose and “tea” since it was put up last December 2018. Abes puts emphasis on the power of visuals and thought that “instead of putting text signs that prevent the people from throwing their trash there, maybe it would be more effective if it (signs) would be more visual.”
“The idea was conceptualized the same time our country was facing issues from the imported waste from Canada and South Korea, and also during our province (Cavite) was dealing with the floods during typhoons because of improper waste management and disposal. The project is heavily influenced by Noel Celis’ (local photojournalist) and Lee Salvador’s (local street artist) works. It also features wheatpaste pieces from street artists Idea (bacteria) and Puka (weeping child and flies). The project was executed with the help from my co-WLRS members, Aykid and Oasis”
Abes firmly believes that saving the environment would require a big part of one’s self. If we want change, we should first start within ourselves by doing small mindful acts, especially in our own local municipalities. For him, a collective effort, no matter how small, will have a big impact on our quest to save the environment.
“We live in a very polluted country nowadays, but there is still hope. The efforts should be a tight collaboration between the citizens and their respected local government units”
If there’s one thing this project made me realize, it is that the never-ending battle we are facing with garbage is for us to take the blame for, take responsibility for, and resolve. The enemy is not the garbage but ourselves and our inability to take care of the things that we all benefit from. After all, this rampant environmental degradation is something that we, people, are completely aware of – an issue that has been continuously frowned upon yet also continuously ignored and taken for granted.
Sometimes, we need these blatant reminders told in unconventional ways for us to really, really pay attention and take action, and art has always been one of the most effective ways for that.
See more of Abes’ works on his Instagram account @abesabian.
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