Call for Curatorial Proposals


Philippine Participation at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale 2020

In 2018, the exhibition The City Who Had Two Navels curated by Edson Cabalfin represented the country at the Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition inquired into the entanglements of our colonial pasts and neoliberal realities and how these have shaped and continually shape our cities and inform issues concerning urban life that persist today. The year 2016 saw six architects and three contemporary visual artists start a conversation about the drastic transformations in Metro Manila’s built heritage, and whether such conditions inhibit the flourishing of the city’s cultural identity. This played out in the exhibition Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City curated by Sudarshan Khadka, Jr., Juan Paolo de la Cruz, and Leandro Locsin, Jr. Muhon marked our inaugural participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale.

For the Architecture Biennale’s 17th edition in 2020, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, is once again looking for curatorial proposals that will articulate issues of contemporary architecture in the Philippines and elsewhere via the exhibitionary platform. The OPEN CALL FOR CURATORIAL PROPOSALS for the Philippine participation at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, initiated by La Fondazione la Biennale di Venezia, is officially opened by NCCA Chairman Virgilio S. Almario, who also serves as the Commissioner of the Philippine Pavilion.


Filipino citizens who are architects, curators, practicing artists from the different disciplines, urban planners, ecological activists, geographers, historians and critics of space, heritage workers, and others are encouraged to participate. The CALL is open to proposals by a single curator or by a team of two curators.


A preliminary jury will shortlist proposals from among the submissions. A meeting with the proponents of the shortlisted proposals will be held if necessary. A final panel of jurors will convene to deliberate on the final proposals submitted by the shortlisted proponents. The final panel will select one curatorial proposal that will represent the Philippines at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale.

With the support of all the cooperating agencies through the Coordinating Committee of the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale (PAVB), the selected proposal will be realized in the Philippine Pavilion in the Arsenale in Venice to be opened to the public on May 23, 2020 and will run until November 29, 2020.

Defining Architecture in the context of La Biennale di Venezia

The term ‘architecture’ is conceived broadly in the context of the Biennale. It is not confined to built form and the planned and designed environment. In the imagination of the Biennale, it refers to the range of ways in which space is sensed, appropriated, inhabited, transformed, and conceptualized in the context of an array of relationships playing out in the field of history and culture. In other words, architecture is rendered responsive to the contemporary conditions and therefore becomes a central concern not only of professional architects but of other social agents and space makers as well who are keen to reflect on the complex situations of space and its making in current social life. Since architecture is located within an expanded field and becomes an extensive term to refer to a gamut of articulations, the proposal for the Philippine Pavilion benefits from a wide latitude of interpretation. It can freely converse with historical artifacts at the same time that it involves contemporary artists across media. It can speculate on geographies of migration alongside a reflection on the cycle of calamities that constantly remake the natural terrain. It can be an ethnography of a place and its densities; a thesis on the speed and sedimentation of a street or a city; a critique of how power constructs a square or a house; and an argument on how people recast their myriad loci performatively. These are only some of the options and permutations in the ever-shifting, though never groundless, algorithms of the architectural.


Text taken from

The Board of La Biennale di Venezia appointed Hashim Sarkis as Director of the Architecture Sector. He is the principal architect of Hashim Sarkis Studios (HSS), established in 1998 with offices in Boston and Beirut, and Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 2015. He was member of the international jury of Biennale Architettura 2016, and participated with his firm in the Pavilion of the United States (Biennale Architettura 2014) and Albania (Biennale Architettura 2010). Sarkis earned a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master of Architecture and a PhD in Architecture from Harvard University. He is the author and editor of several books and articles on modern architecture history and theory, including Josep Lluis Sert, The Architect of Urban Design (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008); Circa 1958, Lebanon in the Projects and Plans of Constantinos Doxiadis (Beirut: Dar Annahar, 2003); and Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital (Munich: Prestel, 2001). President Baratta stated: “We have appointed the Curator of the next Biennale Architettura 2020, within the timeframe needed for organizing the Exhibition and in respect of the norms which govern La Biennale. With Hashim Sarkis, La Biennale has provided itself with a Curator who is particularly aware of the topics and criticalities which the various contrasting realities of today’s society pose for our living space”.“The world is putting new challenges in front of architecture – stated Sarkis. I look forward to working with participating architects from around the world to imagine together how we are going to rise to these challenges. Thank you President Baratta and La Biennale di Venezia team for providing architecture this important platform. I am both honored and humbled.”

Content of the Proposal (see Curatorial Proposal Form)

  1. Title of the Exhibition
  2. Curatorial Concept (800 -1,000 words only)
  3. Proposed Exhibition lay-out
  4. CV of Proponent/s (please include 3 major sample works)
  5. CV of the Exhibitor/s (please include 3 major sample works)
  6. Budget (production of works only)
  7. Schedule/Timeline: Production of the proposed Exhibition
  8. Contact Information

Qualifications of Proponent/s

  1. Natural-born Filipino citizens and Filipinos with dual citizenship upon submission of application (Please attach proof of identification and citizenship)
  2. Have participated in at least one international contemporary exhibition or related Projects/ Platforms

Qualifications of Exhibitors

  1. Natural-born Filipino citizens and Filipinos with dual citizenship upon submission of application (Please attach proof of identification and citizenship)
  2. Have participated in at least one national exhibition or an equivalent record in related Projects/Platforms

Curatorial Responsibilities

  1. Determine the curatorial direction of the exhibition
  2. Manage the concretization of the curatorial proposal from the preparatory phase to the mounting of the exhibition in Venice
  3. Initiate a consultative process between and among exhibitor/s and the PAVB Coordinating Committee
  4. Supervise the exhibitor/s in realizing the curatorial concept
  5. Prepare the production schedule of the exhibition and manage its implementation
  6. Prepare content and collaborate with a designer for the exhibition catalogue and other printed materials of the exhibition
  7. Write exhibition notes and wall texts for the exhibition
  8. Prepare write-ups on the exhibition for the official la Biennale catalogue and for promotional purposes of the Philippine participation at the Venice Biennale
  9. Edit and write for the catalogue and other collateral materials
  10. Coordinate with the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale (PAVB) Coordinating Committee
  11. Officially represent the Philippines in all meetings, events and other activities related to the Architecture Biennale
  12. Propose collateral events for the Pavilion and help manage its implementation

Submission Guideline:

  1. Download the following documents:
    Open Call proposal:
    Proposal form:
    Exhibition space details:
  2. Submit the completed form and ALL the necessary documents only via email to, with subject heading “Curatorial Proposal” on or before August 8, 2019. Emailed proposals will be duly acknowledged upon receipt.

Deadline of Submission:

8 August 2019 (Philippine time). Late submissions will not be accepted.

Announcement of Result:

On or before 29 August 2019.

Contact Information:

Email: / landline: (+632) 527 – 2192 loc. 727