Message of Senator Loren Legarda: Press Conference on the Philippine Participation in the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale

April 15, 2015


Press Conference on the Philippine Participation in the

56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale

15 April 2015 | DFA Building, Pasay City


In less than a month, we will be unveiling an impressive exhibition of Filipino artists in Venice, Italy as we make our comeback in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.


This is historic because this is only the second time that we will have a Philippine pavilion in this century-old event. The first time was in 1964, fifty-one years ago, when Jose Joya and Napoleon Abueva, who are now both National Artists, represented the country.


It was not an easy journey but we proved that it can be done. This project to bring back the country to the Venice Biennale would not have been possible without, first and foremost, the support of our government, which provided the funding, and the full cooperation and effective coordination among government agencies, particularly the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and my office, which formed the Philippine Art Venice Biennale (PAVB) Coordinating Committee.


I am very thankful to DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and NCCA Chairman Felipe De Leon, Jr. for their commitment to this project. They were both very supportive from the time I raised the idea to them during the budget hearings at the Senate in 2013. The Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board have also been helpful in this project.


We all worked together for the open call, the organization of the panel of jurors, the deliberation of curatorial proposals and the selection of the winning proposal. The whole process was not completely flawless but we worked hard, we researched, we asked, and we all learned together. It was a very enriching experience for all of us.


We also want to thank all the curators and artists who joined the open call. Though their works were not chosen, we are grateful because they joined us in this undertaking and they allowed us to better appreciate Philippine contemporary art.


Today, we are a few weeks away from the vernissage of the Philippine pavilion. Very soon, the world will see the intellectual rigor, depth and immense creativity that Dr. Patrick Flores displayed through his curatorial concept, Tie A String Around The World.


We are proud of our curator and our artists, Jose Tence Ruiz and Manny Montelibano, for sharing their talent to the Filipinos and to the world. We are likewise grateful to our artists who have already passed on—Manuel Conde and Carlos Francisco—but whose works remain relevant to the modern world.


In bringing the Philippines back to the Venice Biennale, there were many challenges along the way, but nothing could dampen our enthusiasm knowing that the great Filipino talent will not disappoint. There are continuing challenges but the synergy among the agencies involved always proves stronger. I hope that all of us, not only the government agencies and individuals involved, but all Filipino citizens would be proud of this project, promote greater appreciation of contemporary art, and encourage stronger support for Filipino artists.


Thank you.