THE PHILIPPINE PARTICIPATION IN THE VENICE ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE
The Philippines will be participating for the first time in the International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale in Venice, Italy, through the collaborative efforts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, with the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Senator Loren Legarda announced to the public during the Christie’s Talk at Art Fair in Makati City, that the Philippines will be participating in the 2016 Architecture Biennale as well as the 2017 Art Biennale.
On May 11, NCCA Chairman Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. wrote a letter to La Biennale di Venezia President Paolo Baratta, expressing the country’s interest to participate in the 2016 International Architecture Exhibition.
On May 18, Debora Rossi, Director of the Legal and Institutional Affairs of La Biennale Foundation, explained the process of the application for the National Participation at the International Architecture Exhibition. It is stated in the letter that one of the core requirements of the procedure is that the Commissioner should be part of the Administration that represents the State.
On June 22, Consul General Marichu Mauro of the Philippine Consulate General in Milan personally delivered the letter of Chairman de Leon, in response to Rossi. It was explained that the NCCA is the de facto Ministry of Culture of the Philippines and the Chairman de Leon is the rightful representative.
On July 13, 2015, an invitation letter from La Biennale Foundation was sent to NCCA Chairman Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. formally inviting the Philippines to participate in the 15th Architecture Biennale.
On open call for curatorial proposals was released on August 6 to Filipino architects, curators, practicing artists from different disciplines, urban planners, ecological activists, geographers, historians and critics of space and heritage workers.
On August 31, the first country meeting for the International Architecture Exhibition was held at Ca’ Giustinian in Venice. Ambassador Domingo Nolasco from the Philippine Embassy in Rome and Aurea Lopez, Head of the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale (PAVB) Coordinating Committee, attended the meeting. Alejandro Aravena, appointed Director of the Architecture Biennale, explained his curatorial proposal during the meeting.
On September 26, Patrick Flores made a presentation at the ICOMOS Meeting in NCCA to invite architects and heritage workers to participate in the open call for curatorial proposals.
As a vital part of the selection process, a consultation meeting was held on September 28 at the NCCA Boardroom. It was attended by a total number of 30 participants, which were composed of architects from Philippines’ top architectural firms, curators, artists and deans from educational institutions. Patrick Flores and Aurea Lopez presented the space for the Philippine Pavilion, and explained the meaning of architecture in the context of the Biennale. It was also announced that the deadline for the submission of curatorial proposals is extended until October 30, 2015.
On October 30, the Coordinating Committee received a total of thirteen (13) curatorial proposals from individual architects, top architecture firms and artists.
A deliberation on the submitted curatorial proposals was held on November 28 from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm to select the best and most fitting proposal for the Philippine Pavilion. The panel of jurors was composed of Senator Loren Legarda, NCCA Chairman Felipe M. de Leon, Jr., Architect Dominic Galicia, Architect Minsuk Cho (South Korea), and curators Mr. Jang Un Kim (South Korea), and Mr. Shabbir Hussain Mustafa (Singapore).
The announcement was made public, through the media, that the curatorial proposal titled “Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City” by the Leandro V. Locsin Partners (LVLP) firm was the country’s representative to the prestigious 15th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
On December 10, the first meeting of the curatorial team with the PAVB Coordinating Committee was convened at the NCCA Building. In the meeting, LVLP, represented by Arch. Sudarshan Khadka, Jr., Arch. Juan Paolo dela Cruz and Leandro “Andy” Locsin, Jr. presented their proposal. At this point, the artists and buildings have not yet been identified.
On December 15, LVLP invited representatives of architecture and design thinking to be part of an advisory council that would help the curators decide on the nine buildings and nine architects/artists that will be part of the exhibit. The advisory council also gave their critique of the curatorial concept as well as advice on how to strengthen the exhibition. The invited curators and critics were Patrick Flores and Marian Pastor-Roces; dean of SoFA Design Institute Architect Tobias Guggenheimer; urban planner and landscape architect Paulo Alcazaren; and conservationist architect and honorary ICOMOS member Augusto Villalon.
On January 7, LVLP met with PAVB consultant Patrick Flores to refine the curatorial statement and streamline the process in their internal selection of participants.
On January 11, LVLP invited their choice of contemporary artists and architects to become the participants and the Philippines’ representatives in the 15th Venice International Architecture Exhibition.
Confirmed participating architects/artists were the following:
- Poklong Anading (artist)
- Eduardo Calma
- Tad Ermitaño (artist)
- LIMA Architecture (Don Lino & Andro Magat)
- Mañosa & Company, Inc. (Bambi Mañosa)
- 8×8 Design Studio Co. (Mary Pearl Robles & Adrian Lorenzo Alfonso)
- Mark Salvatus (artist)
- C|S Design Consultancy (Anna Maria Sy-Lawrence, Charm Chua Cabredo, Regina Sofia Gonzalez, Luther Maynard Sim, Mervin Afan, Lea Celestial, Katrin Ann P. de Leon, Philip Mendoza, Raquel G. Orjalo, Karen Tillada)
- Jorge Yulo
On January 27, the participants presented the concept for their chosen muhons.
The subject buildings and urban elements featured in the Pavilion are KM 0 in Luneta (Anading), Philippine International Convention Center (Calma), Pandacan Bridge (Ermitaño), Makati Stock Exchange (LIMA Architecture), Tahanang Pilipino (Mañosa & Co.), Binondo (Salvatus), Magsaysay Center (8×8 Design Studio Co.), Pasig River (C|S Architecture), and Mandarin Hotel (Yulo).
On February 16, the curatorial team met with Senator Legarda for the first time. They discussed the exhibition as well as the significance of the participation for the country.
Head Coordinator Aurea Lopez, together with Andy Locsin and Arch. Sudar Khadka conducted an ocular inspection in the Philippine Pavilion space at Palazzo Mora, Venice. On February 22, the group also attended the La Biennale Press Conference for the curators of the participating countries.
The LVLP set up a mock-up exhibition of Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City in the Bulwagan ng Dangal at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. The construction of the site and mock-up exhibit lasted from February 25 to March 6. The three rooms of the pavilion were replicated at the mock-up site, including exact measurement of walls, floors, windows and even beams. LVLP made the construction as close as possible to the envisioned look for the exhibit space, including details such as the colors of the wall, light fixtures, and even mirrors. The nine architects and visual artists then brought their installations at the site where it was arranged to create a conversation with the other works designed by LVLP. All kinds of materials were used by the participants from steel bars, acrylic panels, wood, and sand. The three contemporary artists of 1335 Mabini- Anading, Ermitaño and Salvatus- also employed video installations as part of their work.
The vernissage of the Philippine Pavilion was scheduled on this date, at 4:00 p.m., at the European Cultural Centre – Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy.
The 15th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia ran from May 28 to November 27, 2016.