Philippine pavilion opens at 60th Venice Art Biennale

The pavilion is an exploration of the country’s art, history, and environment.

The exhibit, called “Sa kabila ng tabing lamang sa panahong ito / Waiting just behind the curtain of this age” by artist Mark Salvatus and curator Carlos Quijon Jr., is an immersive experience that delves into the ethno-ecologies of Mt. Banahaw and Lucban.

It draws inspiration from the mystical energy of the mountain and its rich cultural heritage. Through a commissioned video installation, the pavilion serves as a stage for exploring Mt. Banahaw’s vitality and its profound connections to broader narratives of faith, mysticism, and revolution.

Sa kabila ng tabing lamang sa panahong ito / Waiting just behind the curtain of this age

At the heart of the exhibition lies the enigmatic figure of Hermano Puli, whose prophetic words inspire the title and spirit of the showcase. Puli’s legacy as a revolutionary lay preacher is intricately woven into narratives of anti-colonial resistance, envisioning a transformative future that transcends cultural boundaries and embraces the more-than-human

Salvatus‘ exploration extends to the vibrant musical traditions of Lucban-based musicians, highlighting the Young Banahaw Orchestra and the Babat Orchestra. Through their stories and ongoing musical legacy, the exhibition broadens the discourse on migration, identity, and the shaping of modern soundscapes in the Asia Pacific region.

Detail, Human Conditioned, silkscreen print on textile, 2024. Artist: Mark Salvatus; photo by Andrea D’Altoe

With an eye for detail and a keen sense of purpose, Salvatus unravels stories of renewal, environmental stewardship, and the transformative power of the local imagination.

Art enthusiasts, dignitaries from around the world and friends from the Filipino community in Italy gathered to celebrate the opening of the exhibition at the Artiglierie of the Arsenale in Venice, one of the main exhibition spaces of the Venice Biennale.

Senate Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, the visionary and driving force behind the Philippine participation at the Venice Biennale, joined the opening and shared, “May the exhibition serve as a catalyst for dialogue and inspiration, igniting a renewed appreciation for the profound bond between humanity and the environment.”

In his message, Victorino M. Manalo, Chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Commissioner of the Philippine Pavilion, remembers Hermano Puli’s legacy and enduring spirit.

“Through art and storytelling, we pay tribute to the countless unsung heroes who have shaped our nation’s history, their voices echoing through the ages as a reminder of the power of resilience and faith.”

(From left) Mark Salvatus, artist, Carlos Quijon, Jr., curator, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda. Photo by Lorenzo Busi

Encapsulating the spirit of the exhibition, His Excellency Nathaniel G. Imperial of the Philippine Embassy in Rome offered a reminder “that our cultural heritage is not just a reflection of our past, but a beacon guiding us towards a more hopeful future.”

The sustained participation of the Philippine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a collaborative endeavor of the NCCA, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Office of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren B. Legard

Sa kabila ng tabing lamang sa panahong ito / Waiting just behind the curtain of this age is open to the public at the Arsenale from April 20, 2024, to November 24, 2024.

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