PH Pavilion joins ‘Meetings on Architecture’ of Venice Biennale
The Philippine Pavilion for the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, has further expounded on its exhibition through its participation in the ‘Meetings on Architecture’ program of La Biennale di Venezia. Philippine Pavilion curator Edson Cabalfin led the collateral event, Exhibiting Architecture: Display in the Age of the Postcolonial and Neoliberal, chosen by the 16th Biennale Architettura curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara to be part of the ‘Meetings on Architecture.’
‘Meetings on Architecture’ is an avenue to articulate diverse responses and interpretations of the FREESPACE Manifesto, while also providing a platform to hear from the many emerging and established voices presented in the International Exhibition.
In the Philippine Pavilion’s activity, held on August 24 at the Teatro alle Tese in the Arsenale, Cabalfin lectured on the relationship between architectural representation and the idea of nation by investigating how the Philippines was represented in international expositions during the colonial and post-colonial periods.
Lisa Ito-Tapang, an independent curator, cultural worker and writer, and Yason Banal, Philippine Pavilion artist, also took part in the activity. Ito-Tapang’s lecture, ‘Spatial Reclamation as Resistance,’ presented two sites of grassroots struggle in the Philippines: the urban poor’s occupation of idle public housing lots in Bulacan, and the institution and defense of a rural school for the lumad indigenous peoples in Surigao del Sur.
Meanwhile, Banal’s talk engaged in the theme of the two navels of post colonialism and neoliberalism in the wider context of the Biennale’s theme of FREESPACE by exploring intersections and refractions of systems around architecture’s owned nuanced network, abstract mechanism, and stylistic effect, reading architecture not only as a built and visual environment but also as a conceptual design and a coded translation of power, identity, market and affect.
Marlon Fuentes also presented his film Bontoc Eulogy, which centers on the story about a Filipino’s search for his grandfather who was exhibited as an anthropological specimen at the 1904 World’s Fair held in St. Louis, Missouri. The film draws its inspiration and interest on historical events, but is cleverly crafted from facts, subtle half-truths, and downright obvious falsehoods. Fuentes uses that portion of history he refurbished as a springboard for his discussion on his own fractured identity as a Filipino.
Exhibiting Architecture: Display in the Age of the Postcolonial and Neoliberal was also mounted at the Philippine Consulate Office in Milan, Italy on August 25 and at Fava Church in Venice on August 26. This is a collateral event of the Philippine Pavilion whose exhibition, The City Who Had Two Navels, is presented at the Artiglierie of the Arsenale in Venice.
“Our presence in the Venice Biennale gives us the opportunity to be part of the discussion on global truths presented through art and architecture, while also sharing the realities of our nation. Through this collateral event, we are able to engage more people into knowing and understanding our culture. What we present through the Philippine Pavilion sparks lengthy and complex conversations, and that is how we sustain interest in art and culture,” said Senator Loren Legarda, the visionary behind the Philippines’ return to the Venice Biennale in 2015 after 51 years of absence.
The Philippine Pavilion, a joint project of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, is open to the public until November 25, 2018 at the Artiglierie, Arsenale, Venice, Italy.