Venice Art Biennale 2022, 23 April – 27 November 2022
Philippine Pavilion, Artiglierie, Arsenale, Venice
Curators: Yael Buencamino Borromeo and Arvin Flores
Artist: Gerardo Tan, in collaboration with musicologist Felicidad A. Prudente and Ifugao master weaver Sammy N. Buhle
The Philippines’ National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Deputy Speaker and Congresswoman Loren Legarda
“Andi taku e sana, Amung taku di sana / All of us present, This is our gathering” is a collaborative project that involves musical notation, sound and video, painting and design, and textile weaving. Through the exploration of sound material and field recordings of indigenous weaving practices across the Philippines, the exhibit aims to represent the translation of cultural data into visual communication, collectively promoting Philippine traditions and ensuring its endurance through universal exchange.
A stirring chant emanates from within the entrance tunnel, inviting the viewer to enter a dialogue about translation which connects the traditional with the contemporary. The chant is called a sogna from the Cordillera region of the Philippines, a song of celebration and interaction. The sogna performed in the video is transcribed by Felicidad A. Prudente into sound notations that the artist, Gerardo Tan, translates by painting with his tongue using squid ink, calling this work “Speaking in Tongue”. The videos play in sync together so as to present a loop of translations. Emerging from the womb of the tunnel, the artist wanted to provide an exciting revelation as one enters the dynamic installation on the main exhibition floor. This is the experience he had, while visiting weaving collectives across the Philippines, and upon hearing the cacophonous sounds made by the looms, that fired his imagination. Tan imagined, from then on, the wondrous possibility of the sounds creating their own language, into self-generating patterns coded with cultural information, and this inspired the eventual collaboration between artist, musicologist, and master weaver.
On the main exhibition space, a multi-media installation called “Renderings”, featuring sound, video, and textiles that traverse vertically from the rafters and horizontally across the floor. This binary alignment gives an imaginative rendition to the warp and weft weaving process, the presence and absence of representation, and the intersection of technology with tradition. The textiles interweave accordingly and are linked at the end with video monitors facing across each other. This arrangement ties the traditional process of weaving with the technology of video, showing passages of the primary weavers whose initial sounds had generated the translational designs by Tan and Prudente, and were rendered into newly transmuted patterns by the contemporary weaver, Sammy N. Buhle. The video recordings present the weavers at their looms where the sounds are sourced from, generating an aural concert of minimal and meditative drones that stress sound as the catalyzing creative material. Another iteration to the overall transformative nature of the work–a video of musicians performing before the Metro Manila woven textile, where they ostensibly translate the visual codes applied on the material and transmit them back into sound, thereby creating a feedback loop on the possibilities of open communication.