Philippines returns to Venice Biennale 2015

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Fifty years after its first and last participation at the Venice Biennale, the Philippines finally returns to one of the world’s most prestigious art and cultural institutions.

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In March, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Department of Tourism, in partnership with the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, officially announced the Philippines’ return at the 56th Venice Biennale happening in Italy from May 9 to November 22, 2015.

Aiming to prove to the international community that the Philippines is already a nation and destination for contemporary art, the country’s pavilion will be included at the International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2015.

Established in 1895 and taking place every other year, the Venice Biennale is considered, the Olympics of contemporary art that exhibits global trends and engages in critical discourse. For the past century, it has become the breeding ground for world-renowned artists and has played a pivotal role in shaping the canon of art history, validating avant-garde movements such as Pop Art by awarding Robert Rauschenberg the Grand Prize in 1964.

Countries from Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East have increasingly become more visible co-existing with the national pavilions of the more established countries of Western Europe and North America.

True to its spirit of innovation and provocation, the Venice Biennale has made accommodations to architects, filmmakers, actors, dancers, musicians and performers in its various festivals, as well as adopted curatorial themes that braid artistic excellence, intellectual breadth and theoretical sophistication.

In line with the appointment of Okwui Enwezor as director of the Visual Arts Sector for the Venice Biennale 2015—whose knowledge and practice as curator, art critic, editor, and writer are informed by the issues of diaspora, migration, and globalization, the exhibition for the Philippine Pavilion aims to make a significant and timely contribution to this dialogue.

Curated by international contemporary art historian Pearlie Rose Baluyut, Ph.D., the exhibition entitled Heterot(r)opic revolves around the concept of the Philippines as a tropical heterotopia, a real space of crises where utopia—the myth of civilization and the project of progress—is simultaneously represented, negotiated, and/or subverted.

Emerging from the desire to explore, problematize, and understand the political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental contexts of the late 20th century up to the 21st century that engendered both the development and devastation of the nation and the gathering and dispersal of its peoples through contemporary visual practice, the Philippine Pavilion in Venice signifies not necessarily suspension and fragmentation, but a dialectical dynamism.

In pursuit of a parallel vision of raising the artistic standards and sustaining professional practice through a more democratic, collaborative, and international process, a panel of five jurors composed of acclaimed local and foreign art professionals will be convened to review and select the participating Filipino artists whose works address the curatorial concerns of the Philippine Pavilion.

The return of the Philippines to the Venice Biennale in 2015 signals a bold and unwavering commitment to provide the opportunity and recognition to Filipino artists residing in and outside the Philippines and representing a wide range of mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography, installation, video and digital platforms and performance.

Filipino artists are invited to apply through a global, open-call competition. Official competition guidelines including eligibility requirements, online application forms, and deadlines, will be made available at our future website.

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