Filipino Photographer Gab Mejia Wins 1st Place At #CreateCOP28
Art

Gab Mejia Highlights Filipino Coastal Communities In His #CreateCOP28 Winning Entry, ‘The Passage of Storms”

Gab Mejia’s “The Passage of Storms” for #CreateCOP28. Photographed by Gab Mejia

To the lives lost and the lives forgotten in a sea that remembers, Gab Mejia dedicates his #CreateCOP28 winning entry “The Passage of Storms.” Out of all the applications from over 130 countries, Filipino photographer Gab Mejia takes home the victory for the #CreateCOP28 art competition organized by creative agency Art Partner and the United Nations. In a bid to initiate conversations around climate change and environmental issues, #CreateCOP28 invited creative individuals to “investigate the climate conversation from the perspective of those who can’t participate in it and suffer from underrepresentation.”

Photo of Philippine coast after the onslaught of super typhoon Odette for #CreateCOP28. Photographed by Gab Mejia

Mejia won 1st place among all the applications received from over 130 countries. In his submission entitled “The Passage of Storms,” Mejia brought forward the stories of the coastal communities in the Philippines who face the adverse effects of climate change. In the form of a visual elegy and documentary, Mejia captured the aftermath of the super typhoon Odette (globally known as ‘Rai’).

“It would be two years in December since super typhoon Odette wreaked havoc on our islands, where sometimes, most of us are plagued with forgetfulness, where beyond accolades, I am reminded that our island stories do matter,” the photographer shared exclusively with Vogue Philippines.  “I think in such a pertinent crux of our times, our roles and responsibility as artists to speak truth to power, and power to truth have never been more pertinent. Of storms and seas, in grief and hope, both elegy and prayer, we have to continue to remember, see beyond, and act within the constructs of privilege we have created to be accountable to our collective futures.”

Photo of a damaged house after super typhoon Odette for #CreateCOP28. Photographed by Gab Mejia
Photo of wreckage underneath the sea for #CreateCOP28. Photographed by Gab Mejia

He expounded on the brief via social media. “Coastal communities build and rebuild after every passing of a storm, only to be capitalized by a recurring system of disaster and loss, a creation of messianic myths upon their respective leaders, and corporations as their sole constituents, indebted in these so-called gods with votes, debts, and loyalty, who ‘rebuild’ their homes,” he posted on Instagram. “These acts of god, these storms amid the climate crisis, where can they be summoned, and who holds them accountable?”

Photo of an emotional man for #CreateCOP28. Photographed by Gab Mejia

Mejia also expressed his gratitude in his Instagram caption: “A privilege and honor that “The Passage of Storms” have been awarded 1st place by @artpartner @unitednations @earthpartner for the #CreateCOP28 Art competition with @atmos, which will be exhibited in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from December 8 onwards in time for COP28. Most days, I dream that we do not even need to get to share these dire stories of our islands, but these are the conversations and narratives we continue to confront, and we shall forward these stories that deserve justice for our archipelago amid this climate crisis.”

Photo of a damaged classroom caused by super typhoon Odette for #CreateCOP28. Photographed by Gab Mejia
Photo of a young boy in front of a chalkboard for #CreateCOP28. Photographed by Gab Mejia

In a virtual exhibition on Art Partner’s official website, Mejia’s entry can be viewed along with the entries of runners-up Kasha Sequoia Slavner, Francesco Migliaccio, Julia E Daser, María Legaristi Royo, Lize Briel, Chloe Karnezi, and Corinne Rivera. A physical exhibition at the United Nations head offices in New York is also available for viewing from December 8-14, 2023.

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