Mandaluyong, Philippines

Printmakers’ Assembly 2020: Joey Cobcobo

Artist Profiles > C > Printmakers’ Assembly 2020: Joey Cobcobo

About the Artist

Joey Cobcobo (b. 1983) was a cum laude graduate of Fine Arts in 2004, majoring in Advertising at the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP). He works mainly with print media, combining the techniques of painting, printmaking and woodcarving to create multi-method assemblages and installation works. Cobcobo’s ethnicity – a half-Igorot and half-Ilocano who lived and studied in Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City since 1986 – has been a central influence in his practice, surfacing particularly in his LOLA Project, which explores subjects and themes related to his heritage. 

His distinctive accomplishments include the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Thirteen Artists Awards in 2012 and an artist residency at Koganecho Bazaar, Grand: Ojisan/Obasan, in Yokohama, Japan in 2013. He was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards in 2013, 2010 and 2009, and given the Juror’s Choice of Excellency in those same years at the Philippine Art Awards. The artist was also the Grand Prize winner of the National Piñana Art on handmade paper in 2003, and the ArtPetron Painting Competitions in 2002. Recently, Cobcobo has also become the secretary and a member of the Association of Pinoyprintmakers (AP).


Artist Statement

Plataporma, a series of Ten (10) promises; or a platform for the politicians.
We need to replay their vows in public: television, radio and even in print ads.
We need to awake and challenge them all!
Why? Because we need to give, help and sacrifice for the current crisis, or any crisis that we are facing right now.
Tigil muna away, tigil muna politoko o politika!

We need a Saviour (God); humankind requires a certain social and spiritual distancing. Christians, separate yourselves from the worldly and let your stars so shine before men. The Lord created in us a clean heart, and His will to answer prayers or kagaya ka rin ba ng mga politiko na isang “BLING- BLING” o palamuti sa bayan.

10 Promises:

  • Babayaran ko ang UTANG ng Pilipinas – I’ll pay the debt of the Philippines
  • OpO- oposisyon, tatapusin ko ang kahirapan – Opposition, I’ll end poverty
  • Libreng COMPUTER at INTERNET sa bawat pamilya – I’ll make computers and the internet free for every family
  • I-LIE DETECTOR test nyo ako – You can use the lie detector test on me
  • Kasangga mo ang LANGIT – you are protected/shielded by Langit (name of a politician)
  • Buhay muna, Bahay muna (ECQ 2020) – Life first, stay home (Enhanced Community Quarantine 2020)
  • Gusto ko HAPPY ka – I want you to be happy
  • Hindi AKO magnanakaw – I am not corrupt
  • COLLEGE GRADUATE sa bawat pamilya – There will be a college graduate in every family
  • Libreng PABAHAY – Free house project for the poor

Platoporma is an installation consisting of woodcut monoprints concerned with ten unfulfilled promises of politicians from Cobcobo’s home country of the Philippines. These socially engaged prints form an arena or a stage that continuously challenges and reviews these promises, with phrases such as Hindi AKO magnanakaw (‘I am not corrupt’) displayed on each segment. Other promises the work refers to include vows to pay the country’s debts; end poverty; enhance community quarantine measures; and eradicate corruption. 

Propaganda is a series of woodcut prints created using the soles of traditional wooden clogs, or bakya. Carved into them are images and texts that reference tenets of belief systems, national moral codes and divine intervention, such as the Ten Commandments in Christianity, as well as the Revised Penal Code and 1987 Constitution of the Philippines. 

Initially part of a larger installation work titled Tahanang Walang Hagdan, it was first shown at the Lopez Museum and Library in 2015, placed flat on the ground. The work had originally incorporated elements such as a short 3-tier staircase in both ascending and descending directions at the centre of the composition, and a wooden ladder suspended above the flight of stairs, seemingly extending beyond the ceiling of the gallery space. 

While first conceived as a symbol of hope and partnership towards a progressive future between the community and the local government, the work has taken on a new significance in light of the pandemic situation. The negative space left by the removal of the staircase component, further accented by the shape of the canvas, resembles the currently familiar face mask, the donning of which has been enforced in the Philippines and across many other parts of the world. Encouraging interactivity and a spirit of connectivity in a time of caution, spectators are invited to put on the inked clogs and create imprints on the canvas, as a sign of commitment towards standing together with all affected communities. In our community, poverty is very prevalent; but people create great art from their struggles and afflictions. My community, its members and collaborators are my inspiration.

All artwork images courtesy of the Artist.

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