Ocula speaks to Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan on Forging Community Ties

23 Aug 2023

Ocula features Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan in conversation with Susan Acret. The husband-and-wife artist duo’s art practice is an integral part of their lives. In 2006, the family emigrated to Brisbane, Australia, packing their belongings in 12 balikbayan (returning home) boxes, which were shipped courtesy of the 2006 Biennale of Sydney as the move became the artwork Project Be-longing: In Transit. Now the artists are packing once more, this time returning to the Philippines to realise their plans for a community art project to skill and support local artisans.

In their discussion, the artists’ were asked about their ongoing solo survey exhibition at Museum MACAN, ‘Somewhere, Elsewhere, Nowhere’. Diving in-depth and breaking down their iconic works that have stayed timeless and reimagined throughout three decades of their artistic journey. The Aquilizans’ art shares not just personal narratives revolving around their experiences of ‘migration’, but also touches on stories that resonate with the communities the artists work with on a global scale; describing their works as “site and space-specific”.

However, this time, the artist duo has made the decision to return to their roots in the Philippines. “The Philippines will be a home base to focus on these community projects. It’s a new trajectory in our practice where we’re creating and building something for the artisans to transfer skills and knowledge to the next generation, sustaining declining and vanishing practices and empowering a thriving community in the process.”

Alfredo Aquilizan continues, “We’ve been creating works all over the world and now perhaps it’s time and there is a need for us to go ‘home’ and focus more on our own local and immediate community, to see how our work will evolve and take on a new form. Perhaps, in these trying times, we need to invest more in relationships. That’s very important for us”.

Image: exhibition view of ‘Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan: Somewhere, Elsewhere, Nowhere,’ Museum MACAN, Jakarta, 2023. Image courtesy of Museum MACAN