Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan
"Habitat: Project Another Country" 2015 / Installation view at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo / photo: KIOKU Keizo

  • Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan

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Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan " Home / Return 2019" : Comments from Ms. Che Kyongfa ( Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo )

We started new exhibition of "Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan : Home / Return 2019" where cardboard habitat had taken from installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2015 have been renewed into "home-coming" to Japan. Below is comment by Che Kyongfa, curator of MOT organized the exhibition called "Whose place is this?", installed their work "Habitat: Project Another Country".

She worked with the artists through all the production process, and now introduces the charm of creativity by the Aquilizans.

Four years ago, Alfred & Isabel Aquilizan held a workshop at a primary school in Kōtō Ward, Tokyo. The exercise was entitled Habitat: Project Another Country. They had pupils make their ideal home in cardboard, small enough to hold in one hand. The children did not find this easy, for although cardboard was a familiar material, it seemed plain and rustic to them. The degree of constraint depended on the child’s age. Over the workshop’s few days, Alfred was constantly using his hands, speaking little, but Isabel busily tried communication with the children, to generate a good atmosphere. The artists employed very different approaches, though each closely observed and encouraged the children, remaining beside them. It was a wonderful experience to watch this interaction as the artists transformed the restrictions placed by the material into sources of imagination and creativity and children’s hands responded to it.

The two artists assembled the cardboard houses into an installation. They filled the whole exhibition space as individual efforts were gathered into units, which were then assembled into a larger whole. It was as if the artists were making a three-dimensional painting, adjusting relationships between details and wholes, to generate a whole city. As I looked on, I saw the subtle balance of their work, and thought about this potential for mediation. Alfred and Isabel did not intervene forcefully, but neither did they completely rely on persons, on material objects, on social and physical conditions, nor on inherent elements, like emotion, memory, or relationships behind objects and spaces. Their aim was to use their interventions to generate a harmonious whole, creating connecting points. This vitality must stem from the artists’ experience of working in various countries, for both were brought up amid the cultural diversity of the Philippines, and are now long-term residents in Australia.

I later learned that the houses made by those children four years ago, went with Alfred and Isabel to Taipei and to the Philippines, and that they will now return to Tokyo. What kind of ‘home-coming’ do they intend to give the houses, now changed by their long journey?

Che Kyongfa ( Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo )

"Habitat" 2019 (detail)

Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan : Home / Return 2019
2019, Jun. 19(Wed) – Aug. 4(Sun)