AFTER a 51-year hiatus, the Philippines returns to the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest and most prestigious biennale of international contemporary art. In its anticipated comeback, the Philippine Pavilion and was chosen by London-based artist and curator Pippa Koszerek as one of the ten must-see national pavilions.
The Philippine Pavilion, stationed at the European Cultural Centre-Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy, showcased the works of renowned Filipino artists Manuel Conde, Carlos Francisco, Jose Tence Ruiz, and Mariano Montelibano 3rd.
Made possible through the support of various government agencies, including the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the country’s participation in the 2015 Venice Biennale is expected to highlight the Filipino contemporary art on the global stage.
“It’s about time for the Philippines to take part in prestigious art exhibits, like the Venice Biennale,” says Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. “It’s been a long time coming for our Filipino artists to get noticed on the global stage. We have made a lot of world-class artworks since our last participation in Venice Biennale in 1964. We have also produced many contemporary artists who brilliantly capture the spirit of our country in their works and who are eager to share their talent to the world.”
TPB COO Domingo Ramon Enerio 3rd adds, “Venice Biennale is a venue for modern Filipino arts to be seen worldwide. Our exhibits in the Philippine Pavilion are just models of the diverse, colorful and rich modern artworks that we have in our country. In line with the Visit the Philippines Year 2015 campaign, we hope that our participation in the Venice Biennale can attract more foreign tourists to visit the Philippines and check out the wonderful works of art that are found here.”
The Philippine Pavilion at Venice Biennale is curated by Flores under the theme, “Tie A String Around the World,” presenting a poetic and political reflection on the history of world making, the links between geography and politics, and the notions of nation, territory and archipelago. It is derived from Conde’s 1950 film, Genghis Khan, which was co-written and designed by Francisco and presented at the Venice Film Festival in 1952. At the end of the film, the conqueror stood over his dominion and promised his beloved to “tie a string around the world and lay it at her feet.”
The newly restored Genghis Khan film was also exhibited at the pavilion and presented along with the masterpieces of intermedia artist Ruiz and filmmaker Montelibano. Ruiz’s artworks include the “Shoal,” an assemblage of metal and velvet that references the marooned BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. Montelibano’s “A Dashed State,” meanwhile, was a multi-channel video piece on the West Philippine Sea, which is part of the disputed South China Sea.
These modern works of art seek to initiate discussion on the history of the sea and its relationship with the current world, claims to patrimony, and the struggle of nation-states over vast and intensely contested nature. It also reflects the Philippines’s strong ties to ancient cultures, precocious modern art, and critical responses to contemporary issues.
Through the Philippines’s participation in Venice Biennale, the country engages with the international community on the cultural level. It advances the Philippine contemporary art and provides Filipino artists and curators the opportunity to be recognized abroad. The Filipino art community is hopeful that it will be the start of its strengthened presence on the international stage.
The Philippines’ involvement in Venice Biennale is just one of the many important events that are happening this year to push the country’s international profile, in line with the Visit the Philippines Year 2015 campaign.
Check out the full roster of events happening in the Philippines this year at www.visitph2015.com.