Philippines conquers the Venice Biennale

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VENICE, Italy: The Philippines triumphantly returned to the Venice Biennale after 51 years of absence in the oldest and most prestigious contemporary art exhibition in the world. It opened its doors to the public after the successful vernissage on May 9 at the 16th century building Palazzo Mora.

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The Philippine exhibition, Tie A String Around the World, conceptualized by noted art critic and curator Patrick Flores runs until November 22. Filipino artist David Medalla, a seminal figure in contemporary art, will perform with Adam Nankervis at the Philippine Pavilion scheduled in August.

The Philippine Art Venice Biennale (PAVB) Coordinating Committee composed of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda anticipate keen reception to the exhibit that discusses a pressing, timely issue the Philippines confronts today.

Flores said, “I’d like the pavilion to initiate a conversation on the delicate conception of world making in the deep past and the current lifeworld.” The artworks featured in the exhibit reflect on the current problem on the contested waters in the South China Sea.

Philippine Pavilion Commissioner Felipe de Leon, also the chairman of the NCCA, congratulated Flores and the artists. “Filipino culture as a wellspring of national and global well-being stems from its realization of the unique contribution of Filipino cultural diversity and philosophy of human connectivity to world heritage,” he stated.

Sen. Loren Legarda, principal advocate and visionary of the project, renewed her commitment to promoting arts, culture and talent. She expressed, “Our participation this year is not the end goal. It’s the starting line. My vision is for the country to have an active role not only in the Venice Biennale but in global contemporary art scene through other biennales and art events with the support of the government. In this manner, our unique realities can be communicated through our own work and interpreted by our own artists.”

The participation of the Philippines in the 56th International Art Exhibition-la Biennale di Venezia with full government support points to a future in which art thrives in a proper ecology in the country.

Flores concluded that the return of the country “will stimulate aspirations, even ambitions, in the art scene. It will offer possibilities and a possible imaginative framework for art and curation.”

Flores’ curatorial concept pivots around Manuel Conde’s seminal film Genghis Khan, co-written by Carlos Francisco, which was done in 1950 and celebrated in the Venice Film Festival and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1952.

Around this premise, Jose Tence Ruiz intimates the specter of the Philippine ship on the South China Sea, at once “slum fortress” and armature of archipelago.

Manny Montelibano refunctions the sound and image of a threshold of territory to scan both the epic of survival and the radio frequency of incursion.

The Pavilion’s opening was attended by curators, artists and commissioners of other national pavilions, as well as curators and directors of contemporary art spaces from other countries, Philippine media and the European press.

Ambassador Domingo Nolasco of Rome and other Consular Officers were also present. Influential personalities such as Anton Vidole, founder of Eflux and noted gallerists such as Emmanuel Perrotin were also in attendance.

Mori Art Museum curator Mami Kataoka, Independent Curators International executive director Renaud Proch, and Filipino-American artist Paul Pfeiffer, who were part of the panel of jurors that selected the curatorial proposal of Flores for the Philippine Pavilion, as well as David Medalla and Adam Nankervis, who are scheduled to perform at the Philippine Pavilion in August, also showed support for the Philippines’ comeback in the Venice Biennale 2015.

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