Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan, Passage: Project Another Country, 2011. Govett-Brewster Art Gallery,
New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan work together as a couple, parents and artists. Though they pursue individual creative vocations, their collaborations dwell on their everyday life within a family of five children. The duty of raising them and the intimacy of ensuring their well-being have come to inflect their work with collective habits, or habits of collection – and also of belonging. In the Philippine setting, where filial ties are extensive, the Aquilizan brood cannot be solitary; it is but part of a community of kin that weaves in and out of the household. Through the years, the home as an abode gathers testimonies of passage: of clothes and toys outgrown, furniture stacked in storage, and other possessions strewn along paths.

Many of Alfredo and Isabel’s projects demonstrate this instinct of collecting as well as the techniques of exposition. They have stayed overnight in a museum and marked its precinct with traces of their residence. They have sought out mementoes from relatives in Australia; shoes, toothbrushes and garbage in Japan; blankets and dreams in Korea; and identification photographs of youth and domestic items in the Philippines. But as home is not singular, so is it not sedentary. Its members wander off and return.

The practice of Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan indexes the habit of keeping and investing things with sentiment. It is a disposition shaped by varying desires: as a matter of necessity for a family of five children and as a matter of contingency for artists seeking the intimate contexts of a collective, whether kin or nation, the mass or the global. It is further deepened by their experience as Filipino migrants in Australia and their commissions of installations across the world.

The Aquilizans negotiate identity vis-à-vis tracing points of mobilities. Always considerate of the heterogeneous nature of spaces—a virtue they termed as collaborative—they establish kinship not with place nor people but with the exodus itself. This is the bond that contextualizes their past, present and future projects, irregardless of the constant restructuring of the methods and modes of representation of their artworks—identifying with departures as a poignant tribute to all, like themselves, who have managed to make homes out of strange lands, keeping memories of the passage as the foundation of new dwellings.

Alfredo Juan Aquilizan is an artist of broad sympathies. He draws, paints, sculpts, mixes media, does assemblages, and initiates installation projects. His work heavily draws on memory of home and country. This memory is viewed as a process of recollection, of remembering details and artifacts of a living history of people, places, and encounters. In undertaking this kind of artistic process, he collaborates with the people around him and forges connections among them. In gathering letters, domestic items, mementoes, baby sweaters, toothbrushes, blankets, and photographs of young people for identification cards, he restores the ecology of art as a system of interaction, mutual critique of differences, and the possibilities of the convergence of communities.

Alfredo earned his fine arts degree from the Philippine Women’s University in 1986 and his master’s from the Polytechnic University in Norwich, England. He is currently pursuing his doctorate at the Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Together with wife Isabel, he has exhibited at biennales/triennials like Venice, Sydney, and Singapore and has been commissioned by the Tate Liverpool among others. He taught at the Philippine High School for the Arts and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños.

Isabel Aquilizan is a teacher and artist of the performing arts. She is a director and actress. Her engagement with the process of performance and its inherent collaborative possibilities has led her to work with her husband in installations that cross gaps between media and distances. Her role as a mother of five children enables her to intervene in recreating the art of installation as home or habitat that is sustained by housekeeping, child rearing, nurturing, and the collecting of memories.

Isabel completed her degree in Communication Arts at the Assumption in 1986 and taught at the Philippine High School for the Arts.


Represented by: The Drawing Room