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'Coz We Got Soul: Manila Biennale 2018

For the first time since 1945; Manila, and Intramuros in particular, will be declared an Open City. If in the past, there was a military connotation to the use of the term Open City; this time, from February 3rd to March 5th, 2018, it takes on a new meaning - referencing open minds, open dialogues, and open markets, as the 1st ever Manila Biennale will be held. An Arts Exposition for sculpture, painting, film, video, performance, architecture and installation, this Manila Biennale will see nearly a 100 artists from the Philippines and overseas gather within the walls of Intramuros, and turn the walled city into a living, breathing 'canvas'. As Carlos Celdran, Executive Director of the Manila Biennale stresses, this artistic intervention may very well, 'Bring back the soul of the city!'



The first Art Experience Festival in the history of Manila will highlight Intramuros, which if you reflect on the city's heritage since 1571, is really where it all started. From colonial bastion, to military fortification, seat of government and religion, to residential area; the parks and gardens of Intramuros have seen it all, and will now play the role of art exhibition space. With so much planned over the month long celebration; it's crucial to know what's happening and when, and decide which form of Art you appreciate the best, and want to prioritize.



The Biennale officially gets under way with the By-invitation-only Open City Exhibition Vernissage, Friday afternoon, February 2nd. The art installations all over the walled city will be unveiled, with Opening cocktails & entertainment at Fort Santiago happening in the evening. And on Saturday, the public will be able to enjoy all that the Biennale has prepared for us!

The OpenCity Exhibition is curated by Ringo Bunoan, Con Cabrera, and Cocoy Lumbao, and will be spread all over Intramuros. Cinema Programming, curated by Mon Nocon, will be held at the Teatro at Fort Santiago, and check for a listing of films & schedules (Feb. 3-March 4). The Public Programming, also held at the Teatro, are lectures, workshops and talks (Feb. 3-24), curated by Matthew Lopez. There's an Anthology, Architecture and Design Festival at Fort Santiago (Feb. 9-11), and PASINAYA free performances at the Cultural Center (Feb.4).

There's a moving #VIVAMANILA Open Market - with weekend artists Market, food stalls, food trucks & open picnic withusic. On Feb. 3-4, it's at Fort Santiago from 2pm to 10pm, and moves to Plaza San Luis (Casa Manila) on Feb. 10-11. On the weekend of Feb. 17-18, and on Feb. 25, it'll be found at the Puerta Real Gardens; and reverts to Fort Santiago on March 3-4.




The Manila Biennale 2018 Art Passport goes for P5,300, giving access and entrance to all the movies, talks, lectures and special events (such as the Artists Ball) throughout the month. A Day Pass costs P880; while the Student Pass is P350. School trips are encouraged, and can be arranged by going to the official website.

Unlike an Art Fair, the primary purpose of a Biennale is to place the host city on a pedestal, as a platform for contemporary artistic expression. First conceived in Venice, Italy in 1895, and held every other year; the Whitney Biennale in New York City, the Sydney Biennale, and the Dokumenta in Germany, are examples of cities that have followed the Venice archetype. With the Manila Biennale, it is hoped that a new tradition will be established, and that Intramuros will reclaim some of its' old glory.


Cover image from Manila Biennale Official Facebook Page