‘Of Fragments and Impressions’ exhibition at STPI – Creative Workshop and Gallery
Filipino artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquizilan have a new show at STPI – Creative Workshop and Gallery
Cultural resistance. A sense of displacement. The intangible, yet lasting weight of memories. In their first solo exhibition here, husband-wife duo Alfredo and Isabel Aquizilan reexamine their past projects through a tangible series of interactive installations. Presented in collaboration with STPI – Creative Workshop and Gallery, ‘Of Fragments and Impressions’ opens on Sep 24 and integrates the STPI community into the Filipino artists’ practice – while at once courting with the notion of authorship in the contemporary world of art, as well as their sense of ownership over this experiential oeuvre of 30 works.
In the collograph series Fragments, a selection of pieces printed on pressed cardboard make up ‘Dwellings’ – essentially an interpretation of 2012’s ‘In-Habit: Project Another Country’, the latter commissioned by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in Sydney. Unlike the namesake work – a sprawling installation based off the migratory experiences of the marginalised Badjeo people in southwestern Philippines that was kept intact and suspended by little but steel poles – this series is an extension of its former self.
Here, the artists built an installation of dwellings that were made by various individuals who contributed small cardboard homes to help the growing installation take shape. Isabel explains, “What is interesting about this work is that [Alfredo and I] have installed, deconstructed and reconstructed it multiple times, such that the piece has been compressed and reworked to take on a new form. The cardboard plates we used for the collograph are hydraulically pressed cardboard houses that we collected and handpicked across the length of this traveling show. Each plate was created by an unnamed individual from an unidentified location.”
These exploratory ideas are consistent with the Aquizilans’ constant search for the meanings of “home” and “identity”, two elusive ideas that leave little trace apart from the enduring memories that lie in their wake. In this case, the artists’ (admittedly) self-imposed displacement from the Philippines to Brisbane in 2006 took shape in form of works – both prior to, and after, their migration – engaged around family, community and the personal relationships shared with other artists.
In ‘Wings’ (2009), three pairs of angels’ wings were built from prisoners’ flip-flops, a metaphor suggesting that the incarcerated community would always be prisoners of their misdeeds. ‘Wings I’ and ‘Flight’ are the artists’ latest reincarnations of their former project. Using flip-flops collected from numerous individuals, Isabel maintains these cyanotype works come together to form an imagined, albeit ephemeral, community.
In fact, the exhibition itself showcases works that are exactly that: ephemeral, and a reflection of the themes that form an intrinsic part of the duo’s artistic practice. “The exhibition is all about fragments, as in fragments of past works, as well as translating the fragments of works into a medium,” Isabel notes. “Since most of our pieces revolve around the idea of working with a specific community, [the collaboration] with STPI was a crucial part of the process in our creation of the work itself. It’s always a collective effort.”
Equally referential to the artists’ explorations of cultural displacement is ‘Left Wing II’ – a reimagining of the ‘Left Wing’ (2015) series that was conceived during Alfredo and Isabel’s month-long residency in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The work pays reference to Yogyakarta’s leftist history, including the uprising of the ’60s, as well as the material upon which it is made – sickles from China, according to Isabel. She continues, “This project has now extended to countries with similar leftist histories. That includes the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. We’re also working on a ‘right wing’ series.”
More information at stpi.com.sg.
This article was written by Rebecca L for Art Republik.