curatorial concept

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Artists: Manuel Conde, Carlos Francisco, Manny Montelibano, Jose Tence Ruiz

Curator: Patrick D. Flores

The Philippine Pavilion moves around Manuel Conde’s Genghis Khan, a seminal Philippine film made in 1950 in Manila and Angono; re-edited and annotated by the American writer-critic James Agee; and screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Venice Film Festival in 1952. It was co-written and designed by Carlos Francisco. Conde and Francisco are National Artists of the Philippines. The theme of the Pavilion comes from the line uttered by Genghis Khan at the end of the film as he promised his lady to lay the empire he will conquer at her feet.

As the Philippine representation returns to Venice in 2015 after fifty-one years, so is the film revisited as a trajectory into the very idea of Venice as the place that first recognized the country through the moving image. This travel offers an opportunity to reflect on the condition of the world today and the potential of a Philippine Pavilion to initiate a conversation on the changing configurations of this world--on the volatile meanings of territory, country, nation, border,  patrimony, nature, freedom, limit,  and the “present passing.”

At a tangent to Genghis Khan, the work of Jose Tence Ruiz, Shoal, references the 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.” Ruiz evokes the spectral ship as an ambivalent silhouette of a shoal through his assemblage of metal, velvet, and wood. The trace that is also a monument thus settles into and becomes a reef-outpost-detritus-ark floating on a contested vastness, at once forlorn and prevailing both as saga and shipwreck.

For his part, Manny Montelibano presents the multi-channel video piece, A Dashed State, on the West Philippine Sea, which is part of the disputed South China Sea. It dwells on the atmosphere of a lush locale, particularly the sound of epics and radio frequencies that crisscross the expanse, and the vignettes of seemingly uneventful life ways of islands. The film invites discussion on the history of world making and the history of the sea in the long duration, and in relation to the histories of empires, nation-states, and regions. From the vantage point of Palawan, threshold to Borneo and the South China Sea, Montelibano films the conditions of the impossible: what makes a common sea and where do frontier and edge, melancholy and migration lie.

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Patrick D. Flores, Curator, Tie A String Around the World

Patrick D. Flores is Professor of Art Studies at the Department of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines, which he chaired from 1997 to 2003, and Curator of the Vargas Museum in Manila. He is Adjunct Curator at the National Art Gallery, Singapore. He was one of the curators of Under Construction: New Dimensions in Asian Art in 2000 and the Gwangju Biennale (Position Papers) in 2008. He was a Visiting Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1999 and an Asian Public Intellectuals Fellow in 2004. Among his publications are Painting History: Revisions in Philippine Colonial Art (1999); Remarkable Collection: Art, History, and the National Museum (2006); and PastPeripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia (2008). He was a grantee of the Asian Cultural Council (2010) and a member of the Advisory Board of the exhibition The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989 (2011) organized by the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe and member of the Guggenheim Museum’s Asian Art Council (2011). He co-edited the Southeast Asian issue with Joan Kee for Third Text (2011). He convened in 2013 on behalf of the Clark Institute and the Department of Art Studies of the University of the Philippines the conference “Histories of Art History in Southeast Asia” in Manila. He was a Guest Scholar of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in 2014.

artists

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manuel conde

(b. 9 October 1915; d. 11 August 1985)

was a prolific writer, actor, producer, and film director. Conde’s early forays into film included a stint as a ventriloquist who performed in tandem with a doll named Kiko; and as assistant director to Carlos Vander Tolosa of LVN Films. Under this production company, he directed his first film, Sawing Gantimpala (Tragic Reward, 1940), a cinematic adaptation of a novel written by Susana de Guzman. From 1939 to 1973, he directed and acted for LVN in such films as Ibong Adarna (Adarna Bird, 1941), Orasang Ginto (Clock of Gold, 1945), Apat na Alas (Four Aces, 1950), and Señorito (1953).

Conde’s cinematic collaboration with Carlos Francisco started when he produced his own films under MC Productions, where Francisco did the production designs. This company made films like Si Juan Tamad (Lazy Juan, 1947) and Si Juan Daldal (Talkative Juan, 1948). Informed by a socio-political consciousness at once searing and subtle, the stories center around a lazy yet cunning character whose origins can be traced back to folk tales. These were followed by the films Prinsipe Paris (Prince Paris, 1949), inspired by Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood and Siete Infantes de Lara (Seven Sons of Lara, 1950).

From 1953 to 1958, Conde returned to directing films for LVN, including musical comedies that questioned restrictive customs amid changing times. Conde’s use of satire in films can likewise be seen in his Juan Tamad series, later revived in Juan Tamad Goes to Society (1960) and Juan Tamad Goes to Congress (1959). In these works, Conde crafts a character that would serve as “a crusade for moral, social, political regeneration” and foreground socially relevant issues of the time through the popular cinematic medium. Conde received significant recognition from the Filipino Film Directors’ Chapter, the Philippine Motion Pictures Association, the Screen Writers Guild of the Philippines, and the Film Academy of the Philippines.

Conde was posthumously conferred the Order of National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts in 2009 for enlivening the Philippine cinematic language with folk literature, political criticism, and grandeur.

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Carlos Francisco

(b. 4 Nov. 1912; d. 31 Mar. 1969)

was a painter cherished in Philippine art history for his magisterial murals, lyrical in temper, cinematic in impulse. He studied at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts and taught briefly at the School of Architecture and Fine Arts, University of Santo Tomas in 1938.

Francisco was an early Philippine modernist, along with Diosdado Lorenzo, Juan Arellano, Victorio Edades, and Galo Ocampo. Francisco, Edades, and Ocampo worked on murals for the Capitol Theater and the State Theater and commissions for private residences in Manila, and for the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco. Francisco also did illustration and production design through his long-term collaboration with the film director Manuel Conde. He rendered designs for Conde’s films, such as Genghis Khan, Siete Infantes de Lara (Seven Sons of Lara, 1950), and the Juan Tamad (Lazy Juan) series, among others. Francisco’s paintings are animated by the life ways of Angono, a lakeshore town in Rizal, east of the capital Manila where he lived most of his life. His works are explorations of Philippine imagery carved out from national history, native mythology, and local rituals and beliefs. His compositions are infused with dynamic elements, from human figures in stalwart poses to innovative transitional devices, motifs, and patterns swarming all over the pictorial space. His efforts in exploring a folk-popular aesthetic are likewise gleaned from his works that convey lyricism in portrayals of feasts and festivals, and a keen sense of design reminiscent of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Francisco’s commitment to fleshing out local history and culture is best exemplified in his murals. He was commissioned to paint Five Hundred Years of Philippine History for the Philippines International Fair in 1953. Another commissioned work, Filipino Struggles through History (1964), one of the largest he produced, was for the Manila City Hall. The mural scans successive colonialisms in the Philippines and the struggle against them. Francisco was posthumously declared National Artist for the Visual Arts in 1973.

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Manny Montelibano

(b. 1971)

is a media artist based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental in the Visayan region of the Philippines. He has directed full feature and short films, television commercials, and documentaries.

Montelibano’s video art projects investigate the qualities and potentials of the moving image and sound. Appropriating familiar images and found footage digitally manipulated and juxtaposed with text, noise, or other effects, he reflects on current and varried issues. These are timely references to environmental changes, socioeconomic disparities, structures of power, and notions of distance. His video installation, Sorry for the Inconvenience, exhibited at the Singapore Biennale 2013 presents footage of people in power delivering speeches. The video’s jarring sound and hectic visuals shape how the reception of the message is effectively altered by the medium. Montelibano has also worked with immersive environments, combining video projections with sound and interactive installations, as exemplified in his work, Escabeche: Filipino Sweet and Sour, first exhibited in Manila in 2009.

As a cultural worker, Montelibano is affiliated with organizations that aim to pursue contemporary art production and exchange in the Visayas. Montelibano served as director of the Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition Conference in 2014. He co-founded Produksyon Tramontina in 1997 with two fellow participants of  the Negros Summer Workshop on film facilitated by the influential director Peque Gallaga. This collective seeks to encourage film and new media production, as well as to provide a support system to aspiring filmmakers and video artists in the region. Montelibano taught at the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod from 2005 to 2011 and in Bacollywood (a contraction of ‘Bacolod’ and ‘Hollywood’) workshops beginning 2011. For his efforts in contributing to the growth of the cinematic arts, he was given the Award of Recognition by the Bacolod Art Council in 2014; in 2000, he received the Brother Alexis Gonzales Award in recognition of his service to culture and the arts of Negros.

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Jose Tence Ruiz

(b. 1956)

is an intermedia artist who has actively engaged in set design, publication design, book and editorial illustration, painting, sculpture, installation, and performance art. He received degrees in Advertising (1973, cum laude) and Painting from the College of Fine Arts and Architecture (1979), from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila. He taught at the UST College of Fine Arts from 1983 to 1988. From 1977 to 2004, Ruiz did editorial illustrations for various Manila-based publications as well as the Singapore Straits Times, and for the InterPressService Asia-Pacific, which served Manila, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Singapore.

Ruiz was a significant figure in the 70s in the early articulations of what would be known later as social realism. His wide gamut of works continues to critique power and its consequences. Across the years of artistic practice, he has expanded his media of expression. He has embraced both traditional techniques in painting and digital manipulations. The themes and motifs of his works harness images from everyday life, such as the jeepney (public transport from the Willy’s Jeep) or kariton (wooden improvised cart). He draws from Philippine art, folk and religious devotion, native mythology, media and popular culture, politics and history, computer technologies, and biomorphic patterns. His inventive probe of the techniques of appropriation and pastiche has given rise to innovative forms. The mingling of humor and a sense of play in the appearance of the works and their titles creates a tension between the density of meaning and the latter’s affective, oftentimes ludic qualities.

Ruiz has exhibited extensively in the Philippines and abroad, having presented twenty-one exhibitions since 1985.

He has participated in various international projects, among which were: the Rencontre International D’Art de Performance, Quebec, Canada (2014); the Havana Biennial in Cuba (2000); and the Second Asia Pacific Triennial for Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia (1996).

artworks

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Still photograph from the film Genghis Khan

Photographer: Emmanuel Rojas 1950
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Still photograph from the film A Dashed State

Photographer: Manny Montelibano 2015
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Drawing of production design for the film Genghis Khan Carlos Francisco 1950

Photographer: BPI Camera Club
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Jose Tence Ruiz in collaboration with Danilo Ilag-Ilag and Jeremy Guiab et al. Shoal 2015 Installation Photographer: Mm Yu

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Still photograph from the film Genghis Khan

Photographer: Emmanuel Rojas 1950
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Still photograph from the film A Dashed State

Photographer: Manny Montelibano 2015
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Drawing of production design for the film Genghis Khan Carlos Francisco 1950

Photographer: BPI Camera Club
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Jose Tence Ruiz in collaboration with Danilo Ilag-Ilag and Jeremy Guiab et al. Shoal 2015 Installation Photographer: Mm Yu