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International Art Event Launches at Metropolitan Theater

An important art and design event finds its footing at the historical theater—visit it now!

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Manila’s storied art deco Metropolitan Theater has seen better days, but there are glimmers of hope for its future as the iconic structure gains recognition from both the national and international sphere (read more about the Met here).

Once a premier venue for visual and theatrical arts for the first half of the 20th century, the derelict structure is now undergoing a heavy facelift thanks to its acquisition by the National Center for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). And this September, the theater’s reach expands even further, past local shores, as the London Biennale sets its sights on the storied building, along with other heritage buildings in Escolta. The Met and Escolta were chosen as two of the venues to draw interest from the public, and give the audience a chance to experience the events in these historical structures. It will run at the Met from September 17 to October 9, 2016. After this, the theater will be officially closed for renovation.

The worldwide event this year is founded on the theme, Synchronisation – Syncopation. “These concepts are evident in music, dance, and visual arts. Specifically, they deal with rhythm and pattern—how objects and actions with our space-time continuum both interact with regularity and create points of unexpectedness, generating the new,” explains Gerard Lico, professor and consulting architect at the NCCA, and of the restoration project of the Metropolitan Theater. The London Biennale, a simultaneous worldwide event, pools creativity and culture, becoming a venue for connecting artists, in the same way that the theater has lived out an ideal of collaboration and exchange. “Within its time frame, many local and international artists have called the Metropolitan their home.”

The London Manila Biennale Pollination serves as a catalyst, disrupting the state of abandonment the theater has fallen into and ushering it into a hopeful resurgence as a cultural center within the heart of the metropolis.

“The Metropolitan is today reliving its glorious past as one of the icons of Filipino culture,” continues Lico. “The Biennale is a first step toward the Metropolitan’s rebirth—reclaiming its heritage, identity and most definitely its purpose to once again be the cultural nexus at the heart of the historic capital.” The Metropolitan is a theater by the people and for the people. The city will experience it as such with these motions to bring it back to its former glory.

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“When the NCCA acquired the Metropolitan Theater, the structure was derelict. Through the Metropolitan Theater Clean-Up drive conducted December 2015 to June this year, the efforts of countless volunteers and volunteer organizations many areas of the theater were cleared of debris, and layers of history began to shine through,” Lico adds.

An Art Deco figure in the main lobby of the Metropolitan Theater. “The NCCA aims to use this as a demonstration of best practices in the field of heritage conservation and adaptive re-use,” architect Gerard Lico says. “It’s to become a textbook example in the conservation of our reinforced concrete structures. It’s also an opportunity for practitioners and students of architecture and conservation, as well as the general public to follow this proper restoration of a heritage landmark. This is our contribution to further our story, and our national patrimony.”

 

Performance artists at the media launch of the Biennale, held at the lobby of the Met.The worldwide event this year is founded on the theme, Synchronisation—Syncopation—weaving matters of music, rhythm, and harmony well into its fabric. 

Schedules for the Bienalle:

September 15: 98B COLLABoratory, First United Bldg., Escolta—street performances and exhibit opening

September 17: Metropolitan Theater—Xroads Symposium, talks and live poerformances (exhibit runs til Oct. 17)

September 30: Bulwagan ng Dangal, University of the Philippines Diliman—forum organized by Project Space Pilipinas

The Bienalle exhibit at the Metropolitan Theater, Manila will be on exhibit from September 17 to October 17, 2016. The exhibit can be viewed from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5 pm. or more events and exhibits throughout the Biennale, visit their page here. 

Photos from METamorphosis page, 2016 London Biennale page, and Eugene Aniar (press launch).

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