From Venice to PHL: ‘Tie A String’ Exhibit Comes Home

December 9, 2016

The Philippines’ comeback pavilion in the 2015 Venice Art Biennale is home.


On December 9, 2016, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda will open the homecoming of Tie A String Around The World – The Philippine Pavilion, which will be at the UP Vargas Museum, Diliman, Quezon City until February 18, 2017.


The exhibition, curated by Patrick Flores, was the Philippines’ official representation in the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2015, 51 years after its first participation in 1964.


It features the works of Manuel Conde, Carlos Francisco, Manny Montelibano, and Jose Tence Ruiz.


Tie A String Around the World was remarkable, our powerful re-entry to the prestigious exhibition after 51 years of absence.After representing the Philippines and making an impact in the 2015 Venice Art Biennale, it is now in the country’s premier state university for Filipinos to see,” said Legarda, whose vision and leadership paved the way for the country’s return to the Venice Biennale.


Flores said that he tried to organize a pavilion that was relevant in the Philippine context as it was responsive to the global conversation. “In the process, I thought of as many after lives as possible after Venice.”


Flores explained that there is a specific focus on the particular situation in the West Philippine Sea that the exhibit is trying to respond to, but is not limited to this explosive political issue. Instead, it aims to encourage conversation on “what makes a common sea and where lie frontier and edge, melancholy and migration.”


Tie A String Around the World revolves around Conde’s 1950 film Genghis Khan, co-written and designed by Francisco, screened at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Venice Film Festival in 1952, where it competed with the films of Chaplin, Clement, Fellini, Bergman, and Mizoguchi. Conde and Francisco are both national artists.


The said film tells the story of the young Genghis Khan, his passage into the life of a warrior. It ends with the conqueror, perched on a mountain, casting his magisterial gaze over his dominion and promising his woman to “tie a string around the world” and lay it at her feet. This is a tale of the “king of kings” and the formation of empires that have strung the islands of the world. Genghis Khan’s empire stretched from the Pacific to Europe, the largest contiguous realm ever.


Montelibano’s A Dashed State, a 20-minute, three-channel video with sound installation, ponders on the creation of new boundaries and territories, like the Nine Dash Line. It is a reflection of the state of our people, the state of our country, and the state of the world.


Ruiz’s Shoal is an interpretation of BRP Sierra Madre. The New York Times describes it as the vessel of Vietnam War vintage that “the Philippine government ran aground on the reef in 1999 and has since maintained as a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison, the small detachment of Filipino troops stationed there struggling to survive extreme mental and physical desolation.”


The exhibit seeks to initiate discussion on the history of the sea and its relationship with the current world, claims to patrimony, and the struggle of nation-states over vast and intensely contested nature. It locates the Philippines in the world through its deep ties to ancient cultures, its precocious modern art, and the critical responses of contemporary art to present predicaments. Through the work of artists across generations, this history is told as a history of art and a history of the world.


Tie A String Around The World was regarded as a must-see national pavilion in the 2015 Venice Art Biennale by several art institutions and international news organizations including Art Radar, Christie’s, ArtsHub, and a-n The Artists Information Company.


Tie A String Around the World homecoming exhibition is organized by the NCCA, the DFA, and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, in partnership with the UP Vargas Museum.


For more information, please visit the Vargas Museum’s official Facebook page, e-mail the museum at [email protected] or call at (+632) 928-19-27.