I am Living with Monsters

Aze Ong, Artist

Aze Ong is a Manila-based artist working with crocheted sculptural forms, installation, and performance. Her works range from small sculptural pieces to large-scale crocheted installations that elicit a visual conversation with and within the site. The works may be floor-based, suspended from the ceiling, or wearable. The works are distinct for their tactile properties, unusual color harmonies, and shapes leaning towards abstraction. Since patterns result from the instantiation of the artist’s affective state and cognitive impulses at a given time, each creation is unique. The works underscore the process-oriented nature of creation and phenomenological experience of the artist.

About the Exhibit


One considers home a meaningful place filled with sensory associations that link to memory: the tiny cracks on the enamel paint, a chipped mug stacked atop melamine saucers, an unmade bed. Often, invisible barriers are established in one’s territory. One dwells with a lover, extended family, or community. In the larger scheme of things, one navigates through various social ecologies. To dwell is to cope and contend, charting the affective terrain of dissent, consent, acceptance, or resistance. Home is the body's arena, a frontier where one negotiates living arrangements with others, including monsters. Monstrosity thrives in many ways -- in arenas of artworld consecration, in a society with growing statistics of dispossession, and in a domestic setting that deprives one of comfort. Monsters may encroach on personal space, restrict access, and overstep the boundaries. -From the exhibition notes, by Laya Boquiren  

Laya Boquiren, Curator

Laya Boquiren has served as curatorial consultant for Gallery Genesis (2013), the Museo de Intramuros (2015), and various independent projects. Through a grant from Japan Foundation, she was one of the co-curators of the international travelling exhibition “Field Trip Project” (2015). Boquiren has contributed in academic journals, published 5 books under Vibal (2015-16), has authored a book on Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice awardee Willy Tadeo Layug (2017), and curated the artist’s 2nd solo exhibition at the NCCA Gallery (2017-18). Her most recent publication is Now Here: Access, Activate, Rewind (2018) for Erehwon Center for the Arts. Boquiren is part of the jury for Lucie Foundation’s International Photography Awards (2016-17), Fellow of the Kritika National Workshop (2017), and member of the Société Internationale d´Ethnologie et de Folklore. She has a Master of Arts in Art History from the University of the Philippines Diliman (2009) and has completed short programs at the Institute of Media and Entertainment in New York (2009) and Keio University in Japan (2010). She is currently finishing her dissertation as a PhD candidate in UP Diliman. Boquiren currently teaches Art History and Theory at the University of Asia and the Pacific.  

Post-mortem: Aze Ong's I am Living with Monsters"


 Post-mortem: Aze Ong's “I am Living with Monsters”

November 11, 2018 - Art Portal, Davao City

The exhibit titled "I am Living with Monsters" featuring Aze Ong alludes to the adversaries in various domains, from the self or "loob," the domestic space, and the occupational field. The monsters are entities that have become the source of our fear, disgust, or aversion. During the production process, the artist and I often conversed about artworld monstrosities -- the lack of acceptance for fabric, the limited access to privilege, cliques, loose cannons, and conscious gate-keeping by czars, divas, and thieves.



Aze Ong is a Filipino contemporary artist working with fabric through techniques in crochet, weaving, embroidery, macramé, among others. Her approach is intuitive, almost trance-like, with the result often refusing pre-determination and finality of form. As installations, the works transform according to the specificities of site and the agency of curators and gallery workers mounting the works. Often, the works invite the audience to touch, wear the fabric on their skin, go inside the amorphous forms hanging from the ceiling, and at times tinker with sound-producing objects attached to fabric. The works refuse to be confined within frame and acrylic, resisting both gravity and flatness. These challenges specific to process and materiality often baffle the market and connoisseurs of taste. However, we also wanted to explore the ways that the exhibition can become a transport station for a multi-sectoral public.



 First, an open-ended approach was utilized rather than confining meaning to signifying objects or concepts via loose metaphors. That the gallery was a space for sharing personal artworld narratives was sustained from ingress to egress, but individuals who visited the exhibition would sometimes share anecdotes from their own occupational fields, in effect transmuting the idea of monster (the actor) and monstrosity (the act). Second, care was taken that the exhibition will not function as a bully pulpit. Instead, the gallery should offer a platform for the personal-affective to be articulated. 



Rather than concealing these narratives from the public eye hidden from view and consigning their screams to the attic, these were unraveled but only so that there may be an atmosphere of sharing and healing.   

At this juncture we were operating under the contemporary conditions of the gallery as site: that it is no longer a white box for aestheticized objects but a space for conversations. 



The works titled Honoring Boundaries, Respect (series 1, 2, 3), Silent Rage, and Sincerity elicited conversations during the artist talk and curator's walk-through. The questions "What do you consider monsters? How do you dwell with monsters?" were directed to participants from organizations in fields such as tourism, local government, health, environmental conservation, and independent art collectives. With the support given by the curatorial team from Art Portal, we wanted a trans-disciplinal discourse generated by interlocutors that included not only artists and art workers but people from various frontiers and terrains of negotiations -- because context is no longer simply found but produced.   


 The participants offered their strategies for dealing with monsters from termination, starvation, aversion, to tolerance. Others chose to tame monsters and with this, regulation. At the same time, there was a constant reminder that self-reflexivity must be maintained so that the avenger, warrior, or resilient dweller will not be devoured by their inner monster or eventually turn into one.  

by Laya Boquiren