Saturday, 26 August 2017

Alfredo Aquilizan & Isabel Gaudinez-Aquilizan

 20 August - 16 September      Passage, Another Country, 2017


The art of the Filipino-Australian artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan is a traveler's tale, be that of the immigrant or the nomad. They have considered what is left behind, what is carried with the travelers on their journey and they have mined their own families’ migration to Australia as the subject and the substance of their art. 

Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan. Passage, Another Country, 2017. Cardboard construction with photographs of horizons.

They began working with their chosen medium, the travelers' discarded cardboard carton in a Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation project of 2012, “Inhabit another country”. This installation was an extrapolation of the homes built along the shoreline of Mindanao by the Bajau, the gypsies of the Sulu Sea. These encrustations are but one aspect of a broader architecture of poverty that has become a subject of Filipino Art and it imbued with an innate humanity. In recent museum scaled installations the Aquilizans have romanticized these necessities of habitation as boats, the travelers' vehicle and the nomads' home. 

The boat is an image with a deep resonance in Australian cultural psyche. From the armadas of convict ships in our mythic past to the fishing boats that ferried contemporary migrants euphemistically described as irregular maritime arrivals. Migration has defined Australia. The vast migrant ships assembled by the Aquilizans have also become an apparent destination in themselves, hinting at the darkest fate of the immigrant, a perpetual journey. 

The two shoe like walking boats exhibited here were made during the Aquilizans' recent residency at the Mosman Art Gallery that was part of the Bayanihan Philippine Art Project, a suite of exhibitions celebrating Filipino culture presented in various Sydney art galleries. And as in the Aqulizians' work, the Bayanihan Art Project addressed the migrants' central concerns of home, of be-longing and of utilitarian possessions reconfigured as cultural artifacts. 

- Tony Twigg, 2017