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CCP launches digital museum named 21AM

It opens with Pio Abad and Frances Wadsworth Jones' exhibit of augmented-reality jewellery reminiscent of the regime

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) launches an online museum, a milestone project in celebration of its 50th anniversary, on February 25. Called 21AM, the online museum recalls the Art Museum, CCP’s original visual arts department circa 1969. The new museum is intended to be a dedicated space of critical inquiry and artmaking that confronts the 21st century.

21AM is an online museum built to present contemporary art exhibitions that probe cyberspace and interrogates its capacities to alter human reality. For the Philippines, 21AM opens the domain of art to the global arena where complex ethical issues surface in light of massive, technologically-driven shifts in the contests over truth.

As it launches into cybernetic futures, 21AM also shows itself as an entity with a vast memory. The entire CCP Collection of Modern, Contemporary, ethnographic, and ethnomusicological art and cultural materials will be accessible in the near future through 21AM. For now, access will be available to a number of data fields.

The work to establish the museum importantly included the custom-built design of this new Accession Record System that consolidates the CCP Collection. The design updates museum databasing conventions that hardened, for the world, during the colonial period. Old and now untenable hierarchies (notably, the art/craft divide) are absent from the new software design.

Conceptual artist Pio Abad and his wife, the jeweller Frances Wadsworth Jones, are presenting The Collection of Jane Ryan and William Saunders: Jewelry in Augmented Reality as the inaugural exhibition of  21AM.

According to the exhibit information released by CCP, the artwork references the pseudonyms Jane Ryan and William Saunders, standing for Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos as legal owners of a cache of jewellery of staggering value. In previous iterations of the artwork in a series of exhibitions, Abad and Jones presented their reproduction jewellery pieces in jeweller-like settings, juxtaposed with particular costs of social services missing during the couple’s reign.

21AM was conceptualized for the CCP by independent curator and cultural critic Marian Pastor Roces, who worked with the CCP’s Visual Arts and Museum Division, and Chris Millado, CCP artistic director and vice president. TAOINC designed the accession system based on Roces’ curatorial guidance, and undertook preliminary conservation assessment of part of the CCP Collection.

The original CCP Art Museum was known during its early decades for germinating the mid-20th century visual arts avant-garde. Conceptualism and Installation Art found its first avatars in the first directors of the Art Museum. Half a century later, that history gives 21AM its core institutional memory.

21AM will operate exhibitions, run public programs and a 24/7 chat room, and a Digital Human Rights Hub.

The London-based Filipino-British couple Abad and Wadsworth Jones, assisted by curator Kenneth Paranada, were commissioned by 21AM to exhibit this most recent and first digital iteration of their long-duration work that traces, according to the CCP release, “the contours of Philippine dispossession by reconstructing Imelda Marcos’ jewellery collection”.

The 21AM appearance of the artwork series—that has been presented as exquisite to-scale or large-scale reproductions of the jewellery in a variety of media—marks Abad’s and Wadsworth Jones’ penultimate edition. According to the CCP release, the present Augmented Reality version of exhibitions/provocations continues to present the scale of excess of the Marcos couple during the Martial Law regime.

In this edition, the artist couple explores how digital technology might find, the release said, “different ways to disseminate these artefacts and unlock the histories of impunity contained within. In recreating the jewellery as a digital installation, we hope that it can reach a broader audience and function both as artwork and pedagogical tool.”

The release added—by allowing exhibition visitors to digitally possess the jewellery, “locate” these wherever, and take their own pictures of the relocated baubles, Imelda Marcos’ version of “cultured” as possessiveness is given to the public to rethink; and perhaps reconstitute into a culture of informed thought.

Abad and Wadsworth Jones began their collaborative work in 2018. They have been exhibiting together at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; Kadist, San Francisco; Bellas Artes Projects, Manila and the 2nd Honolulu Biennial, Hawai’i. Forthcoming projects include the 5th Kochi-Muziris Biennial in 2022.

Abad has shown internationally the past 10 years, most recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; the 12th Gwangju Biennial, Korea; Para Site, Hong Kong and CCA Glasgow. Wadsworth Jones has had recent presentations at London and Paris Fashion Weeks; Vitsoe, Munich; David Roberts Art Foundation, London and The Museum of London. Their works are in the collection of the Hawai’I State Art Museum, Honolulu; Art Jameel, Dubai and Tate, UK.

The live stream of the launch may be viewed on February 25 at 3pm at the CCP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/culturalcenterofthephilippines/ and the CCP VAMD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ccpvamd. The website itself may be accessed at: https://21am.culturalcenter.gov.ph/

For more information, contact the CCP Visual Arts and Museum Division at email [email protected], mobile 0935 337 9438, or through @ccpvamd on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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