Photographer Eric Bico is primarily known for embracing analog photography, but his recent works show an affinity with certain body parts. Last year, Eric showcased photographs of ears for Tarzeer Picture’s “Swoon.” For the upcoming Munzinelupa, the photographer surveys the body and zooms into the elbow, a body part we don’t pay much attention to.
The elbow is an unassuming body part. It’s naturally important, but we don’t think of it as much as we think of the face or hands or feet. Days, and even weeks, can pass without hearing the word “elbow.” And yet, here is Eric with Siko Nga Ba?, a zine saturated with, well, elbows. But it’s also a zine that makes us question appearances.
I noticed that so much of your work deals with the human body. Aside from the portraits you shoot, your exhibit at Tarzeer Pictures last year focused on the ears. In general, why do you like shooting the human body?
Actually, nagkakataon lang talaga. From my scattered memories na naaalala ko na lang out of nowhere. And it is my way na rin to express na let’s appreciate our body, lahat tayo iiwanan pero hindi ang katawan natin.
Going back to your exhibit last year, can you tell me the story behind it? Why did you do the series?
Swoon/Intimacy ‘yung theme ng exhibit. And then may naalala akong quotation na, “The ears, if put together, is shaped like a heart…” Then sinubukan kong i-translate into photographs. For me another way of showing intimacy to other people is through listening. I have my other concepts but doon tayo sa practical way. I don’t have enough time to look for my subjects and location kaya sa unpredictable-predictable tayo na execution parang “uhhh oo nga ‘no?” moment sa akin.
“And it is my way na rin to express na let’s appreciate our body, lahat tayo iiwanan pero hindi ang katawan natin.”
This year, you’re participating at Munzinelupa with a zine on elbows. Can you also tell me the story behind the zine?
Nothing deep, nakakatawa lang talaga na bigla ko lang naalala yung sinabi ng high school teacher ko sa amin na ‘pag hinahawakan mo raw ‘yung siko, parang hinahawakan mo na rin daw ‘yung balls.
On what your high school teacher said about balls and elbows, what do you think of it now?
Ganun pa rin. Hahaha. Kaya I created this zine kasi ‘di nagbago ‘yung naiisip ko sa sinabi ng teacher namin. And it’s up to you kung ano pa ‘yung maiisip mo ‘pag nakita mo ‘yung photos.
How many pages is the zine? And how many photos are there? How many prints/editions are available? Other specifications?
It is a 18-page zine consisting of 16 photographs and available in 5 editions only.
I’m interested to know your process when it comes to shooting. There’s a story I’ve read on how photos shouldn’t be meaningful always. Sometimes, they can just be photos. When you start a project, do you like to have a clear sense of purpose or direction? Or do you like to just create images and let them make sense naturally?
Purpose or direction in a way na based on my emotions or experiences, self-expression ba or on my subject’s. And the photos will make sense naturally because that rawness makes it more relatable to the viewer. Kaya I value the authenticity of my photographs.
Last year, you showcased your work in an exhibit. How do you determine if a certain body of work is for an exhibit or another form of exhibition like a zine?
Generally speaking, I think you can’t or it’s difficult to mass produce for an exhibition. You can do whatever you want depending on the space and (of course) budget na meron ka. But when it comes to self-publishing, it’s easier to do mass production and through that you’ll have a wider viewers to experience your work.
Since you deal with other people in your photographs, how do you select your subjects?
As much as possible, I know the persons I’m working with. It is a form of hangout na rin namin ng mga naging subjects ko at mas nakikilala mo sila kaya give and take ako when it comes to shoot.
In the future, are there any body parts you’d want to explore?
Of course! We are interesting creatures.
What is a good photograph?
Something na hindi lang dapat visually appealing, but something na ‘pag tinignan mo ang isang litrato meron kang naaalala at mararamdaman based on your past and/or something na magiging curious ka sa point of view ng subject at ng photographer.
How do you know when the work is done?
For an exhibition or zine event, a day before ng deadline. Hahahaha. I really don’t know actually, basta ko na lang mararamdaman iyon.
Aside from this zine, what else should we expect from you at Munzinelupa?
I have another zine, ito naman ay from screenshots na nababasa ko sa Waze whenever may traffic report akong nakikita sa app. And will be selling tote bag.
Get Eric Bico’s zines at Munzinelupa on Jan. 26 at Picked Cafe & Gallery, Muntinlupa City.
Photos courtesy of Eric Bico, header art by Renz Mart Reyes