NCCA presents 2017 Philippine Pavilion in Venice Biennale


The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, has officially presented to the media the country‘s official participation in the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia: The Philippine Pavilion–The Spectre of Comparison.

Curator Joselina Cruz

The Spectre of Comparison was chosen among 12 curatorial proposals submitted to the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale (PAVB) Coordinating Committee by the panel of jurors during deliberations held on August 29, 2016 at the NCCA Office in Manila.

The jury was composed of Dr. Eugene Tan, Director of the National Gallery Singapore; Florentina Colayco, President of Metropolitan Museum of Manila; Luis Yee, Jr., a pioneer of installation art in the Philippines; then NCCA Chairperson Felipe de Leon, Jr.; and Senator Loren Legarda, principal advocate of the project.

Joselina Cruz, the curator, brings together two artists, Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo, for the 2017 Philippine Pavilion, which will be mounted in the Artiglieri of the Arsenale in Venice, Italy. The Arsenale is one of the two main exhibition spaces of the Venice Biennale.

The Philippine Pavilion will hold its vernissage on May 11.

The Pavilion: The Spectre of Comparison

Participating artists Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo

Drawn from Jose Rizal‘s Noli Me Tangere is the phrase el demonio de las comparaciones (also translated to “the spectre of comparisons”)—the impulse for the exhibition and the framework for the practices of Maestro and Ocampo.

“The phrase encapsulates the experience of Rizal‘s protagonist, Crisostomo Ibarra, when he gazes out at the botanical gardens of Manila and simultaneously sees the gardens of Europe. This point of realization suggests the loss of Ibarra‘s (and Rizal’s) political innocence, this doublevision of experiencing events up close and from afar: no longer able to see the Philippines without seeing Europe nor gaze at Europe without seeing the Philippines,” Cruz explained.

With this as spectral pivot, Maestro’s and Ocampo’s practices, aesthetically worlds apart from each other and produced through a multiplicity of contexts, are brought together in Venice.

Manuel Ocampo

Both artists have lived and practiced outside of the Philippines, but have maintained active engagement with the country throughout their careers. Their practice and their subject matters are deeply involved with their experiences as immigrants or citizens of a new diaspora that also reflect the complexity of a contemporary Philippine identity.

he jurors (from left): National Gallery Singapore Director Dr. Eugene Tan, former NCCA chair Felipe de Leon Jr., Senator Loren Legarda, Metropolitan Museum of Manila President Florentina Colayco and Philippine installation art pioneer Luis Yee Jr.

“The exhibition looks at their practices as emblematic of the experience of Rizal‘s spectre of comparisons, the juxtaposition of their works, the manifestation of political and social commentary from afar, as they saw the events of the Philippines and their adopted countries through an inverted telescope’,” said Cruz.

The 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, titled Viva Arte Viva, is under the directorship of French curator Christine Macel. It will open on May 13 and will run up to November 26.


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