To simulate the space at the Arsenale of La Biennale di Venezia, the curatorial team and artists, supported by the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale Coordinating Committee, installed the mock-up at the historic San Ignacio Church in Intramuros on November 2 – 12, 2021. The neoclassical church – destroyed in the 1945 Battle of Manila, was restored and reopened in 2019 as an ecclesiastical museum – has high ceilings and a vast space, which lent itself to the exhibition’s layout and design.
Exhibition Set-up and Installation
On February 28 to March 10, the tunnel was constructed in the Arsenale. To oversee the set-up and mounting at the Philippine Pavilion, the curators, artists and the PAVB-CC went to Venice to ensure that the exhibition was mounted according to plan and aligned with the schedule. In close coordination with Italy-based installation partner We Exhibit, the set-up of the Philippine Pavilion was completed on April 17, 2022.
The Philippine Pavilion will have its live Opening Ceremony at 2:30 pm (CET)/8:30 pm (Philippine time). It will be followed by a Press Conference via Zoom at 3:30 pm in Venice, Italy / 9:30 pm in Manila).
Last April 21, 2022 at 2:30 PM (CET), the Philippine Pavilion’s Andi taku e sana, Amung taku di sana / All of us present, This is our gathering triumphantly opened along with 80 countries participating at the 59th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. In attendance live, via Zoom and Facebook Live were the curators Yael Buencamino Borromeo and Arvin Flores, participating artists Sammy N. Buhle, Felicidad A. Prudente and Gerry Tan, cooperating agencies led by National Commission for the Arts and Culture Chairman and Philippine Pavilion Commissioner Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, Deputy Speaker and Congresswoman Loren Legarda, and His Excellency Domingo P. Nolasco and Consul General Bernadette Therese Fernandez (PCG Milan) on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as members of the Filipino community in Venice, Lombardy, Milan, Padova, Treviso, Trieste, and guests from local and international members of the media.
Speaking in Tongue
Speaking in Tongue is a two-channel video consisting of performances by a singer and a painter. Materials include squid ink, acrylic glass, TV monitors, MP4 video, digital projector, wooden frames, and transcription on paper.
The work incorporates multiple channels of communication, from sound to visual representations, in promoting universal learning through diversity towards the production of new cultural data. The exhibit explores the signification of performative utterances between a traditional chant to its sound transcription and subsequent painting – a translation of specific cultural experiences into universal channels of communication both oral and visual. Both sound and visual languages are representations of identity that allow various interpretations and encourage interactive learning. A chant is a ceremonial singing of words or sounds that commemorate or correspond to an event or to a symbolic act. In this instance, there is a transmitter who regulates the flow of cultural information, and a receiver who records the event, where the partnership of the two forms a collective sharing of knowledge for further understanding. Painting typically is a studio activity exemplified by individuality and subjective expression which connotes autonomy and authenticity. Here, the painter is a transcriber of cultural meaning, one who controls the production of signs and the catalyst for universal communication. “Speaking in Tongue” therefore represents the possibility of communication without boundaries and the promotion of human understanding across ostensible differences.
Renderings is a series of textile outcomes that follow the weaving sounds derived from traditional practices of communities in the province of Iloilo, Ifugao, Kalinga, South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Abra, Maguindanao, Antique, Ilocos, and Metro Manila. These sound recordings are transcribed into musical notation, developed using an original modern symbolic system to cipher information on pitch, duration, tempo, and other articulations such as absence or rests that are within the dynamics of the aural composition. Following this signifying chain, the notations are afterwards re-processed and reproduced by the weaver into unique contemporary designs that resemble universal abstractions and pure form.
It explores the production of cultural information through various channels of transmission: sound/field recording, music transcription, craft, textile material, video documentation, and installation. Each component in the exhibit’s open system of information distribution, from sound to notation, from weaving to video documentation, function as a translation machine in the expression of culture. From one medium to another, the flow of information glides and reassembles accordingly to regulate transmittable iterations while instigating creative difference, from original to copy, producing a deterritorialized state of affairs that experiment with authorship, identity, conventionality, and the new. Traditional practice of weaving is deconstructed from its repetitive singular process down to its essential feature of sound, which facilitates the creation of new signifiers for transcription. Musical notations are made using modern symbols that are assigned according to the type of sound with its approximate duration. Such that there is creative freedom in their invention enabled by the capacity of the loom apparatus in generating sound material in tandem with the weaver’s skill of interpretation.