Elmo's House
Artist Residency

Batan, Aklan
Philippines

 
From which side of the door

From which side of the door

Throwing away the keys ensures doors remain closed. Whatever is inside will be there for a long time. But it seems nothing has been thrown away, most especially, keys. Inside an old coffee jar, unlabelled with rusted teeth, are dozens of keys, that may or may not have the capacity to open.

 
 
 
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There are rumours about a safe hidden somewhere in the house, containing piles of money, the lot of the Del Rosario riches. This story has come from neighbours, extended relatives and people who used to work for my father. Most of them have never set foot inside the house, but yet, the imagery of these stories are so compelling they continue to persist.

What do these keys unlock? Is there a secret room yet to be discovered? Between the walls, underground, buried in the garden, will I find something my father has left behind? Will I find out the rumours hold some truth?

 
 
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I love the myth-making. But taking stock of the multiple break-ins this house has had over the years, they can also be quite dangerous. The multitude of keys can mean many things, but all would be speculative.

Now, the keys are part of the material history of the house, artifacts that have long outlived its original use. There are no locks behind paintings, or safes containing crown jewels. There are only these objects that hold mysteries of the past, perhaps more interesting than a pile of cash.

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