THE PHILIPPINES RETURNS TO THE VENICE ART BIENNALE AFTER A 5-DECADE HIATUS

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fifty-one years after its 1964 participation in the Venice Art Biennale, the Philippines finally returns to one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art, with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda.


The Venice Biennale. Photo courtesy of Archdaily.

Patrick Flores’ curatorial proposal titled “Tie A String Around the World” was chosen by a panel of distinguished experts from among 16 submissions as the Philippine representative in the 56th International Art Exhibition organized by La Biennale di Venezia, which will run from May 9 to November 22, 2015 in Venice, Italy.

Flores’ work moves around Manuel Conde’s 1950 classic Genghis Khan, co-written and designed by Carlos Francisco and screened at the Museum of Modern Art at the Venice Film Festival in 1952, where it competed with the films of Chaplin, Clement, Fellini, Bergman and Mizoguchi.

“Being the most lucid mirrors of sensibility, harnessing the arts in this Philippine entry can be a most effective and peaceful way of enabling other people to see the world as Filipinos perceive it,” said NCCA chairman Felipe M. de Leon Jr. who also serves as commissioner for the Philippine Pavilion.

The newly-restored film will be exhibited at the Philippine pavilion, which will occupy three rooms at the European Cultural Centre-Palazzo Mora, and will be positioned in conversation with the contemporary art projects of inter-media artist Jose Tence Ruiz and filmmaker Mariano Montelibano III.

The Pavilion seeks 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.

Senator Legarda, principal advocate of the project, also expressed jubilation over the country’s participation to the Biennale after five long decades of absence. “It has been 50 years since we last joined this prestigious contemporary art exhibition. We have many talented Filipino artists worthy to be given the chance to showcase their talent in this event. Furthermore, we should also take this opportunity as a platform to engage the international community at a cultural level. I am confident that our artistry and culture would leave other nations in awe.”

Legarda explained that “Tie A String Around the World” was chosen for its “poetic and political reflection on the history of world making, the links between geography and politics, and the notions of nation, territory and archipelago.”

Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is considered by many as 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. In 2013, it has attracted over 475,000 visitors which made it the most visited art exhibition in Italy.

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