Frieze features Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan’s exhibition at Museum MACAN

22 Aug 2023

Hilary Thurlow from Frieze reviews Somewhere, Elsewhere, Nowhere, by Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan at Museum MACAN, in Jakarta. The exhibition surveys nearly two decades of the Australia-based duo’s practice exploring the latent psychic energy of everyday objects in space; objects that are destined for obsolescence, transformed into works of art.

Thurlow describes the artists’ ability to capture the emotional resonances of overlooked communities through the materials used in their installations. These installations serve as bridges for stories that resonate not just with the Aquilizans’ Filipino heritage but also forge profound connections with the diverse communities they collaboratively engage with worldwide – in this case with Indonesians.

For instance, the Aquilizan’s Dream Blanket Project: Project Be-longing (2002–23) was recontextualised for this exhibition. The familiar structure of piled-up blankets are accompanied by humming, polyphonic yet intimate chorus that conveys a dream recorded by each donor who contributed a blanket to this installation, crowdsourced by members of the museum’s community via an open call. Alongside the structure are plaster casts of the interiors of shoes, again sourced from the local community. These casts rest in pairs on a bed of grains, on either side of a wooden pathway that steers visitors through a central entryway.

“In tandem, the two parts of Project Be-longing invert the private realm – dreams and inner lives – into public space, signalling not necessarily revelation but, rather, absence. I thought, for instance, of migrant labourers, who – often undocumented – often pass barely noticed within the public realm of Indonesia, wary of provoking racist or nationalistic backlash,” as expressed by Thurlow.

Somewhere, Elsewhere, Nowhere is on view at Museum MACAN until 8 October 2023.

Image: Installation view of Dream Blanket Project: Project Be-longing (2002–2023) and Project Be-longing (1999–2023) at ‘Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan: Somewhere, Elsewhere, Nowhere,’ Museum MACAN, Jakarta. Collection of the artists. Image courtesy of Museum MACAN.