Wed, May 01, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Intricate cardboard city rises in Manila university art show


A visitor poses for a photo next to a work of art featuring houses made of cardboards on display at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila on Friday last week.

Photo: Ted ALJIBE, AFP

A twisting maze of tiny buildings crafted from discarded cardboard boxes is the heart of an eye-catching art piece in the Philippines highlighting the humble material’s value to millions of people.

In a nation where nearly a quarter of the population lives on less than US$2 per day, cardboard is a cheap and abundant material used for shelter, bedding and furniture.

While the installation was originally made in and patterned on the Chinese city of Chengdu, the Filipino artists behind the work said that the use of cardboard packs more meaning in Manila.

“The cardboard is very much important in the Philippines. In other places, it’s discarded, it’s garbage,” said Isabel Aquilizan, who conceived of the piece along with her husband, Alfredo.

“Here, we use it for everything. We construct with it, it becomes your bed, it becomes your house, it becomes everything,” she said.

A hole at the center of the mixed-media installation allows visitors to stand at eye-level with details of the cardboard metropolis like roof-mounted satellite dishes, street signs and trees.

“I was very much overwhelmed with the details and the simple use of the material,” architecture student Ebi Villa said during a visit to the exhibition at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila.

The work, called Here, There, Everywhere: Project Another Country, is the latest piece from the Aquilizans and it probes questions of migration and dislocation.

Millions of Filipinos live and work abroad, including the Azuilizans, who are based in Australia, and remittances from overseas workers are a pillar of the economy.

The piece, commissioned by a Chinese organization, was created through the help of volunteers in China, who underwent workshops by the artists on cardboard art-making.

“Cardboard is a strategy for us to, in a way, connect, because it’s an ordinary material,” Alfredo Aquilizan said.

“It’s unassuming, wherein when you give someone a cardboard in a workshop, they start making it” art, he added.

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