A girlish 30-year-old who could easily be mistaken for a teenager, MM Yu’s deceptively youthful demeanor belies a prolific creative output expressed in her preferred media of photography and painting—though she rarely combines the two. In her painting, MM likes to experiment with a half-planned, half-random process of dripping paint onto canvas in lines or blobs that melt into an amalgam of color. With her camera, her artful eye somehow picks out the ironic, the striking, or simply the unexpectedly beautiful in the streets around us: an estero filled with muck becomes a glittering pathway in the inner city; a slashed, distressed couch is transformed into a block of swirling color set against a drab, grey wall; a dead cat, mouth in a rictus, appears all the more horrifying in that its eyes, fallen out of their sockets, glitter eerily. She often assembles these images, juxtaposed for effect, into photo books titled according to theme. The Photo Book of Bawal Umihi, for example, contains images of this ubiquitous signage that can be hilarious and off-putting at the same time. Yu was an Ateneo Art Awardee in 2007 for her semi-autobiographical exhibition, Thoughts Collected, Recollected, in which she arranged her individually-themed photo books of varying sizes on a long wooden shelf, inviting viewers to leaf through them. In both her photography and her painting, one senses a love of color, a sense of irony, and, above all, an uncanny eye for the accidental artistry present in everyday life.
By Lisa Ongpin-Periquet
Lives and works in Manila, The Philippines