IT WILL be interesting to see what artist Mark Justiniani will pull out of his sleeve for the Philippines’ participation at the 58th Venice Art Biennale in Italy next year.
Mr. Justiniani is like a magician — he plays with mirrors for his art and is known for large-scale installations and site-specific works. Last year, he did The Settlement, an installation which employed mirrors as a commentary on history and politics as illusions: not everything you see is real.
For Biennale in 2019, the Philippine Pavillion’s theme is “Island Weather” and will feature the works of Mr. Justiniani. It will be curated by Tessa Maria Guazon, an assistant professor at the Department of Art Studies in the University of the Philippines, Diliman.
“Island Weather” explores the many ways by which the Philippines, an island-nation, can be understood and imagined: through its geophysical characteristics that reflect how Filipino people regard their spaces, whether as a place of origin, shelter, respite, or a country as a whole.
“Island Weather” will have three thematic approaches: “Island Voyage,” “Local Forecast: Turbulent Weather,” and “Piers and Ports.”
According to a release from the Office of Senator Loren Legarda — one of the pavilion’s sponsors along with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts — “Three thematic approaches shape ‘Island Weather’: (1) ‘Island Voyage’ alludes to travels and grand designs referencing light houses built during the colonial period and places that combine fantasy and myth; (2) ‘Local Forecast: Turbulent Weather’ gestures towards aspects of the lighthouse to construct an experience of viewing and being seen; and (3) ‘Piers and Ports’ expands the artist’s investigation of vision and its role in the construction of truth.”
Mr. Justiniani, a 1994 recipient of the CCP Thirteen Artists awards, has long been interested with optics, illusion, perception, and vision vis-a-vis the structures of space and time. His body of works reflects his social realist leanings. In the 1980s and ’90s, he worked with activist groups like Abay (Artist ng Bayan) and Sanggawa.
The 58th Venice Art Biennale theme is “May You Live in Interesting Times.”
The Philippine Pavilion in Venice will be on view from May 11 to Nov. 24, 2019. — NFPDG
READ: Mark Justiniani behind the usual bluff