This Nostalgic Exhibit Explores What Makes a House a Home

It runs until November 23 at UP Vargas Museum.

( For most of us, there are places that we always associate with certain people, a memory, or a past experience. But no matter how far we go—in terms of space and time—there’s always home to go back to. And artist Marc Aran Reyes explores the many meanings and functions of this place that’s familiar to us in his exhibition Familiar Places, which is on display at the University of the Philippines’ Vargas Museum in Quezon City until November 23.

“Desert, Scent Trails, and Imaginary Walls” by Marc Aran Reyes 
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling

“I’d like to think of home as a place for belongingness,” shares Reyes. He explained that Filipinos give high regard to families, even to extended family members. Who can forget those big Christmas reunions where you meet your aunt’s cousin for the first time or the friend of a family friend of a family friend? Even how our houses are structured show how much we value our lineage. Ancestral homes often have a number of spacious bedrooms, which serve as individual homes of a son or a daughter that has his/her own family to raise. This, he explained, makes home a natural habitat where we’re given basic necessities and where we develop fundamental knowledge.

Reyes takes inspiration from found objects in Vargas Museum’s archives, such as a prison sketch and Jorge Vargas’ old house in Kawilihan.
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling

Marc Aran Reyes at his favorite exhibition component, his installation “Everyone’s Prison” (2019). He shares this has been exciting since he was able to try new materials apart from his usual oil on canvas.
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling
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But he also distorts the idea of the home as a safe space by exploring how these places can also be likened to prisons—a place of discomfort or isolation. “We are in this era where we usually confine ourselves in the comfort of our home, eventually making us detached to nature, the reality,” he adds.

This idea came from Reyes’ research in the archives of Vargas Museum, which inspired him to visit abandoned houses in Biñan, Laguna—his hometown. He started collecting found objects like chairs and capiz windows that eventually made their way to the exhibition.

“Non-material Memorabilia”
PHOTO BY AZ Camiling

Some items for his installations, such as pillows, jars, carpets, and ladles, were donated by close friends or found in other homes. By using everyday things, he hopes to capture the audience’s consciousness and look beyond traditions.

He also shared his musings on the “indoor generation,” which is very relatable for most of us. This is also why his other paintings look at mental health issues and how people find ways to isolate themselves without realizing its consequences.


Familiar Places looks at home both as a place of hope and despair. It can be a physical space where people dwell or the other way around: people that make any space feel like home. For Reyes, the meaning of home comes from a person’s own experience and interest.

Familiar Places runs until November 23 at Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, University of the Philippines – Diliman, Quezon City. For more information, visit Jorge B. Vargas Museum’s website.

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