Wawi Navarroza (b. 1979, Manila) is a photographer and multi-disciplinary artist from Manila, Philippines. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from De La Salle University, Manila and attended continuing education at the International Center of Photography, New York. In 2012, Navarroza completed her scholarship with an award from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Madrid under the program European Master of Fine Art Photography.
Starting from the darkroom in her early years as a photographer, Navarroza always pushed for her own understanding of the medium by various experiments to make it her own until she abandoned the pictorial tendencies of stylized black-and-white work for another approach, using the camera to serve more conceptual ideas.
Navarroza’s approach to photography is malleable, contemporary, self-reflexive; less and less as a documentarian but rather as an author of a visual language that she creates and assembles in pictures. Her body of work is a combination of various inclinations to constructed portraiture, still life, appropriated imagery, site-specific negotiations with space, intervening at times through tableaus, performative gestures, and installation. In rare turns, she also engages the viewers through shared sensorial experiences by including unexpected works (such as edibles, spirits) as extensions of landscape.
Navarroza has widely exhibited in the Philippines and internationally. Recent solo exhibits include: Tierra Salvaje (2014), Hunt & Gather, Terraria (2013), ULTRAMAR, Pt.1: Gathered Throng, Falling Into Place (2012), Dominion (2011), at Silverlens Gallery, Manila; and On Landscapes and Some Dislocations (2012) at Galería Patrick Domken, Cadaqués, Spain. She has participated regionally at the Tokyo Month of Photography presented by Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2012); the Asian Art Biennale in Taichung, Taiwan (2011); the annual touring exhibition CUT: New Photography from South East Asia by VWFA Kuala Lumpur; ASEAN-Korea Emerging Wave Asian Contemporary Photography Exhibition in Seoul, Korea (2010); and Verso Manila: contemporary art from the Philippines in Turin, Italy (2009). She has also been shown at the Angkor Photography Festival in Cambodia, Noorderlicht Photography Festival in Holland, and PhotoIreland.
Her work has been shown in institutions such as the National Museum of the Philippines, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery, Hangaram Art Museum in Seoul, National Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung (TW), and Fries Museum in the Netherlands, and is in the collection of the Central Bank of the Philippines, LUMI Photography in Helsinki, and private collectors worldwide.
Navarroza has received a number of awards such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Awards (2012), Lumi Photographic Art Awards, Helsinki (2011), and was finalist for the prestigious Sovereign Asian Art Prize (2011) and Singapore Museum Signature Art Prize (2011). Other awards include: International Photography Awards (2010), Portfolio Preis (2010, Germany), Prix de la Photographie Paris (2009), and two award-winning solo exhibitions: POLYSACCHARIDE: The Dollhouse Drama (2005) and SATURNINE: A Collection of Portraits, Creatures, Glass, and Shadow (2007), which was cited Winner at the Ateneo Art Awards 2007, Philippines. In 2009, Navarroza was awarded the first Asian Cultural Council–Silverlens Fellowship Grant to further her research and practice in New York City.
A staunch believer in the potential of the printed format and a strong proponent of photobooks and artist books in the Philippines, she released two of her own in 2014: DOMINION and Hunt & Gather, Terraria, launched internationally at Offprint Paris and New York Art Book Fair, respectively. Her works appear in recent photography anthologies such as Photography Today (Phaidon), Contemporary Photography In Asia (Prestel), No Chaos No Party: 28 Artists in Metro Manila, among others.
For a period, Navarroza also worked as a lecturer of photography at De La Salle University, Manila and occasionally as an independent curator. In the past few years she has based herself in Madrid, Barcelona, and Cadaqués, Spain. Currently, Navarroza is working and living in Manila. Since her return, she founded THOUSANDFOLD, a platform for contemporary photography and photobooks in Manila that also mounted FOTOSEMANA, the city’s first international microfestival for auteur photography.
She also sings for post-punk rock band The Late Isabel.
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