(Manila, Philippines) Filipino curators, artists and creatives responded to the Open Call for Curatorial Proposals for the Philippine Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia with engaging proposals, evoking the aspirations of Filipinos in the country and across the world. The proposals demonstrated strong material and discursive potential, touching on a myriad of concerns and risking propositions for urgent collective action rooted in intimate experience, and exploring diverse artistic expressions (painting, film, sound, performance and intermedia installations). The proposals revisited the complex Philippine subjectivity and locality in the context of the personal and the planetary, the cultural and the ecological.
The selection of the official representation of the Philippines at the Venice Biennale was guided by criteria that spoke to the attentiveness for material and discourse, the ability to contextualize art forms within the landscape of a national pavilion in Venice, the sensitivity to local concerns and openness to inter-cultural dialogues, as well as the overall sensibility, formal integrity, thoughtfulness, and feasibility.
After careful and thoughtful discussion and contemplation, the jurors came to a decision and chose Kabilang-tabing ng panahong ito (Behind the curtain of this age), curated by Carlos Quijon Jr., featuring the work of Mark Salvatus, to represent the country in the world’s most prestigious and prominent international contemporary art exhibition. The selected exhibition simultaneously explores currents of mysticism and modernity, the deep past and the looming future, as well as the coincidence of the cosmopolitan and the vernacular. It revolves around the ethno-ecologies of Mt. Banahaw, a three-peaked forested mountain located at the boundary between Laguna and Quezon, and Lucban, the artist’s hometown. It draws inspiration from how Mt. Banahaw has shaped the music and faith of the people. The title comes from the words of Apolinario de la Cruz or Hermano Pule, the radical spiritual firebrand, lodestar of the people of Lucban, who resisted the discriminations of the Spanish Catholic church.
The deliberations were held on July 21, 2023, onsite at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and virtually, via Zoom. The jury comprised Ms. Corazón S. Alvina, director of the Museo ng Kaalamáng Katutubò and a seasoned cultural worker and curator from Manila; Biljana Ciric, an interdependent curator based in Shanghai; Alexandra Munroe, Ph.D., director of curatorial affairs for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project and a pioneering authority on modern and contemporary Asian art and transnational art studies; Victorino Mapa Manalo, Chair of the National Commissioner for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Commissioner of the Philippine Pavilion; and Hon. Loren Legarda, Senate President Pro Tempore and Project principal and visionary of the Philippine participation at the Venice Art and Architecture Biennale since 2015.
The Philippine Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia will be open to the public from April 20 to November 24, 2024.
Learn more about the jurors here: http://philartsvenicebiennale.org/2023/07/27/jurors-for-the-philippine-participation-at-the-60th-venice-international-art-biennale/
Carlos Quijon Jr.’s recently curated exhibitions include and land erodes into (2023) at Calle Wright (Manila); object orientations at Gravity Art Space (Manila); and Synthetic Condition at the UP Vargas Museum (Manila). He co-curated the traveling exhibition series Afro-Southeast Asia: Pragmatics and Geopoetics of Art during a Cold War in Singapore (2021), Manila (2021-2), and Busan (2022). His essays have recently been published in the Pathways to Performativity in Southeast Asia issue of Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art, National University of Singapore; SEA: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia, Weiss Publications (Berlin); and, in the exhibition catalogue for Allegories and Realities: Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi in Retrospect at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Carlos’s affiliations include Project and Publications Coordinator for the Philippine Contemporary Art Network (PCAN), Art Critic for Artforum, Research Resident for Traveling South, In Theory project CIRCA Art Magazine (Belfast) and The Getty Foundation Connecting Art Histories Project: Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong) , Dhaka Art Summit (Bangladesh) .
Mark Salvatus is a contemporary artist living and working in Quezon City, Philippines. His works have been presented in different exhibitions including the Asian Art Biennale, Taichung (2021); 2nd Lahore Biennale (2020); Sharjah Biennale (2019); 900mdpl, Jogjakarta (2019); PCAN Pavilion, Gwangju Biennale (2018); Thessaloniki Biennale (2017); Philippine Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale (2016) ; SONSBEEK International, Arnhem (2016) ; Prologue Exhibition: Honolulu Biennale (2014); 3rd Singapore Biennale (2011); 4th Guangzhou Triennale (2011); Jakarta Biennale (2011 & 2015); and, Koganecho Bazaar, Yokohama (2011). He exhibited his works in several venues such as Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, Manila; Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD), Manila; Ateneo Art Gallery, Manila; Mill6 CHAT, Hong Kong; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Asia Society, New York; ISCP, New York and Kusntraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin. His films and videos were also screened at M+, Hong Kong, MAIIAM, Chiang Mai, Rencontres Internationales Lourve, Paris and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 6th Cairo Video Festival and International Competition at the 68th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. He is part of the current traveling show Notes for Tomorrow organized by Independent Curators International (ICI) from 2021-2025.
He had residencies in Asia Culture Center (ACC) Gwangju, South Korea, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, IASPIS Umea, Sweden; Art OMI, New York, Common Room Networks Foundation, Bandung, Indonesia and Goyang Art Studio in South Korea. He co-founded Load na Dito Projects in 2016 with Mayumi Hirano, an artistic and research initiative that explores various modes of producing and presenting contemporary art by organizing and co-organizing a wide range of programs.