Flores tied Conde’s film with the current works of intermedia artist Jose Tence Ruiz and filmmaker Mariano Montelibano III that resulted in a haunting statement about the country’s territory, patrimony, national identity and culture.
Ruiz’s velvet-clad sculpture “Shoal” alludes to the World War II vintage warship BRP Sierra Madre currently stranded at Ayungin Shoal of the West Philippine Sea—a gallant, albeit puny assertion of the country’s claim to several islands in the area.
Montelibano’s 20-minute film “A Dashed State” is an abruptly edited commentary on the seemingly peaceful life of locals in a coastal barangay in southern Palawan.
The film’s audio is constantly interrupted by incursions of Chinese radio signals as if to warn the viewer of unseen threats on the residents.
Other countries cited by Christie’s are Australia, Italy, Iraq, Latin America, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.
The national pavilions of these countries are houses either in the Arsenale or Giardini districts of Venice.
Legarda identified London-based artist and curator Pippa Koszerek as the one who explained the Philippine pavilion’s inclusion in the list for a-n, the UK-based nonprofit organization supporting the arts in Europe.
Koszerek took note of the Philippines’ comeback after a 51-year hiatus, but said “the exhibition spans this gap, bringing together three generations of practitioners.”
Citing the works of Conde and Francisco as well as the more current ones of Ruiz and Montelibano, Koszerek said the Philippine entry effectively discussed “socioeconomic issues of sea nations, global politics and the volatility of borders through installation and film, respectively.”
Other pavilions cited by a-n include those of Armenia; the British Pavilion in Giardini; Chile; the Dutch Pavilion in Arsenale; the National Pavilion of Iceland; Ireland; New Zealand; Ukraine; and the United States.
Flores’ proposal was picked from 16 entries by a group of jurors composed of Mami Kataoka, chief curator of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo; Paul Pfeiffer, a New York-based multimedia artist; Renaud Proch, executive director of Independent Curators International; Filipino art critic Cid Reyes; chair Felipe de Leon, Jr. of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts; and Legarda.
There are 88 countries participating in this year’s biennale. While the works in the Philippine pavilion comprise the official entry, there are also Filipino artists exhibiting in other venues in Venice.
Listed in Il Giornale dell’Arte, considered the guide to the 2015 biennale, are Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, whose works are housed in Palazzo Grimani.
“Our return to the Venice Biennale after 51 years of absence is a great achievement already and for the Philippine Pavilion to be regarded as a must-see pavilion is very rewarding. It makes me even prouder of our artists,” said Legarda, principal advocate of the Philippine Art Venice Biennale project.