Tie A String Around the World

Philippines - Biennale Arte 2015

The Philippine Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale

The Palawan Epic

What happens to him, according to the story? As soon as he throws himself towards this space, he has not even chewed a quid when he sees iin the middle of the sea a rock rising hafway up in the space.

And he lands on it like a bird. And he says, "It is here that my place will be." When he scans the horizon, the landscape is open and looks like the circle of a bracelet, the story says.

The anthropologist Nicole Revel cites a passage from the Palawan epic Mamiminbin that summons a "maritime landscape after a narration of the hero's ordeal through the Hell Amaranthus.

It describes Mamiminbin's voyage to another world and his arrival at the abode of the Lady of Fishes,a rock in the middle of the sea. Revel locataes the wondrous world of his voice and this utterance:

"In the southern highlands of Palawan,'la isla de la Paragua,' lives a society of blowgun hunters and swidden agriculturists. Surrounded by lush vegetation of thousands of species and a peculiar fauna

-both fauna and flora are akin to those in Borneo and Luzon-the people live in an intense relationship with nature. They call themselves 'Palawan,' which is also the island's name."

It is uncanny that when the hero scopes the skyline, he sees an open landscape, much like the sphere of an ornament linked to the limb.

Genghis Khan
Created by the National Artist Manuel Conde, with production design by the National Artist Carlos "Botong" Francisco

In another time in the Philippines, the film on the incomparable conqueror Genghis Khan would unreel. It ends with the Emperor, perched on a rock, casting his magisterial gaze over his dominion

and promising his servile woman to "tie a string around the world" and lay it at her feet, a profession of love and a romantic apprehension of conquest.

The Philippine Pavilion moves around Manuel Conde's Genghis Khan, a germinal Philippine film made in 1950 in Manila and Angono; re-edited and annotated by the American writer-critic James Agee.

Screend 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.

As the Philippine returns to Venice in 2015 after 51 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, specifically the distance and time traversed, indexes an aspiration. It also 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 meaning of territory, country, nation, border, patrimony, nature, freedom, limit, and the "present passing."

The film is the pivot around which the Pavilion turns, the node at which two contemporary projects are coordinated to finally imagine the condition of the world and the modes of its conquest

as referenced by the epic life of Genghis Khan.

Shoal
A massive installation by Jose Tence Ruiz.

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,

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, which conjures as well the fabled mountain range,

as an ambivalent silhouette of a shoal through his assemblage of metal and velvet. 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.

A Dashed State
A multi-channel video by Manny Montelibano

For his part, Manny Montelibano presents the multi-channel video price, 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 lie frontier and edge, melancholy and migration?

The Philippine Pavilion casts its lot with the prospects of the world being strung like islands in an archipelago, with water around it, replenishing or flooding it, ferrying its people across

or forcing them to be where they are. But this shifting, sedimented site that is the Philippines is built as strata of the elements, very much the way Venice, in the vision of the historian

Fernand Braudel, "rises over an engulfed forest," an overlay of water, land, country, shoal, epic, reef, country, vessel-and all the strings around the world.

Credits: Story

Tie A String Around the World
The Philippine Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale
Curated by Patrick Flores
Artists: Manuel Conde, Carlos "Botong" Francisco, Jose Tence Ruiz and Manny Montelibano

Photos by:
Manny Montelibano (A Dashed State)
Andrea D' Altoe
MM Yu

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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