PASSAGE (THE EIGHTH FLEET) 2011
Transport cardboard boxes, packing tape
‘Conceived as a collaborative work, Passage is an ongoing creation of objects that converses on the idea of time, site and means as an agency for reconfiguring personal experiences and the memory of a place and settlements. It consist of several elements or structures in the form of boats, created in cooperation with communities and school children. We offer an open invitation for people to participate in the process and invite participants to construct their own individual boats fashioned out of transport boxes. Individual creations are assembled together and become a part of a bigger structure that signifies the idea of an imagined community.
As a launching point for this project, we looked into the history of immigration of this region, looking beyond the pre-colonial period. As we ourselves come from the Philippine Islands, we share a common descent with the early immigrants of Aotearoa (New Zealand) who belong to the Austronesian family (Oceania, Southeast Asia). Although the native culture of Austronesia is diverse, varying from region to region, the early Austronesian peoples considered the sea as the basic tenet of life. Following their diaspora to Southeast Asia and Oceania, they used boats to migrate to other islands. Boats of different sizes and shapes have been found in every Austronesian culture - from Madagascar, Maritime Southeast Asia, to Polynesia - and have different names as objects that tell stories about time and place, tales and narratives.
It was recounted that Māori ancestors set out from their homeland and arrived on a Waka or Māori migration canoes. According to the “great fleet theory” by ethnologist S. Percy Smith, there were seven canoes that all departed from the Tahitian region bringing the people now know as the Māori to New Zealand. As his conjecture was derived from an incomplete and indiscriminate study, it was disproved and overturned during the 1960s. With this premise, we would like to propose and create our own reinterpretation of history (migration), through a fabrication of an object and the collection (vignettes from the individual boat’s stories) of narratives that go with it.’ Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan
Husband and wife team Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan work particularly in the realm of community projects, outdoor installations and participatory projects using found and recycled materials. They have been exploring the themes of migration, displacement and cultural sustainability for several years with their ‘Project Be-longing’ series and their emigration in 2006 to Australia from The Philippines has further deepened their engagement with memory, experiences and story-telling. The Aquilizans have participated in several major international art exhibitions including the Liverpool Biennale 2010; Singapore Biennale 2008; Adelaide Biennial 2008; Biennale of Sydney 2006; and Biennale of Venice 2003.