Loren Legarda: Each piece of Filipino art was inspired by a story

The Philippine participation in the Venice Biennale project visionary Deputy Speaker and Congresswoman Loren Legarda shares: “Among the many issues it seeks to take up, the Philippine Pavilion exhibition hopes to start a discussion on the formation of communities through experimentation and exchange. And thus, through this exhibition of the Philippines in this important platform, we share with the world how we can keep the essence of communities alive.”

Philippine STAR: How would you describe the 2022 Philippine Pavilion?

Loren Legarda: It inspires conversations on transmitting culture through an interdisciplinary approach, which connects the traditional with the contemporary. By exploring sound material and field recordings of indigenous weaving practices across the Philippines, the exhibit presents the translation of cultural data into visual communication, collectively promoting Philippine traditions and ensuring their existence through inter-cultural exchange.

Why does the current exhibition deserve to be on the world stage together with those of the US, Britain, and all the giants of contemporary art?

Our love for the arts is immeasurable and this is manifested by our ancestors’ works. We have to promote it as well as embrace it. The world needs to know more about Filipino culture and artistry — our own identity.

Through the exhibition, we hope to introduce and express ourselves (the Filipino people) to the world. Our country is rich in culture and tradition, and each piece of Filipino art was inspired by a story. We believe these stories deserve to be shared and passed on from one person to another, and that the Filipino talent and creativity is worth bringing to the global stage.

The curators and artists of the exhibition believe that in a time of crisis such as we are in today, it is worth noting and commemorating absence through continuity, as we bring about a gathering to convey the sentiment that nothing truly ends alone by itself.

How does participation in the Venice Biennale affect the art practice of Filipino artists back home?

Through this exhibition in such an important platform, we share with the world how we can keep the essence of communities alive. I believe that the Philippine Pavilion and our continuing presence in the Venice Biennale will enhance Filipinos’ sense of self-worth, dignity, and pride in our own cultural achievements, and become a potent force for national unity.

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How do you hope to enhance our participation, and what laws, policies, or moves should be put in place to further reinforce our place in the Olympics of contemporary art?

We hope to institutionalize Philippine participation in the international exhibitions of the Venice Biennale through law. In July 2019, we filed House Bill No. 00638 or the “Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale Act of 2019” that sought the yearly participation of the country in the international exhibitions of the Venice Biennale. It strived to create the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale Coordinating Committee, which shall act as coordinator and commissioner for the Philippine Pavilion in the Biennale exhibitions. It was approved by the House of Representatives on Aug. 26, 2020 and transmitted to the Senate on Sept. 1, 2020. It is currently pending with the Senate Committees on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, and Finance.

We have to recognize the important role of the arts in fostering patriotism and nationalism, and the vital role of culture and the arts in democratic and inclusive nation-building. For this reason, I will continue to push for the institutionalization of our participation in the Venice Biennale.

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