Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan are partners in both life and art. The pair's collaborative practice is inspired by an ethos of co-creation and collective spirit, often inviting participatory actions into their large-scale multimedia assemblages that are anchored by ideas of family, migration, displacement, and memory.Read More
Alfredo Juan and Isabel Aquilizan y Guadinez were born in Cagayan Valley and Manila respectively. Their artworks are usually comprised of sprawling cardboard box installations or personal artefacts that speak to the transience of human endeavour and place-making. Their itinerant works, developed over years of working abroad, address the practicalities of making-do and parenting, as well as the fractured social identities that result from human resettlement.
In 2006 the couple migrated with their five children to Brisbane to seek a better life. In doing so, the Aquilizans' journey became a metaphor for the displacement of all migrant families. Project Be-Longing (1997–present) is an exemplary open-ended work taking the form of balikbayan boxes arranged with personal clothing, books and possessions that are used by the Filipino diaspora to transport goods.
In the cargo-ready balikbayan boxes of Project Be-Longing, personal histories undergo radical compartmentalisation and detachment. Project Be-Longing: In Transit (2006) presented the artists' family's own belongings unmoored during their move from the Philippines to Australia, embodying the emotional and spiritual longing for home that connects individuals to their roots.
Inspired by the precarious livelihoods of the minority Badjao people, In-Habit: Project Another Country (2012) asked local Australian communities to contribute makeshift cardboard houses to a miniature village. The seafaring Badjao, who live across the Sulu Archipelago in fragile stilt houses and whose lifestyle rejects notions of citizenry, sovereign states, and capitalist economies, reflects Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan's interest in community-building, interdependence, and connectivity.
The resultant topography of In-Habit, with its inverted mountains reminiscent of favelas or Badjao Torosiaje, share in the vernacular of the displaced, binding viewers together in the process of meaning-making. 'We are motivated and sustained by the anxieties and pleasures of a life that is constantly changing, turning our artwork into a quasi-celebration of daily life,' the pair say.
From Pillars to Posts: Project Another Country, Auckland Art Gallery (2018); Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan: Of Fragments and Impressions, STPI, Singapore (2017); In-Habit: Project Another Country, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2016); In-Habit: Project Another Country, Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide (2014); and Alfredo + Isabel Aquilizan: Address, Jorge B. Vargas Museum, Quezon City (2011).
Ocula | 2020