CCP Launches Digital Museum: 21AM

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is launching its new museum, another 50th-anniversary project, on February 25, 2022. 

Its name, 21AM, recalls the Art Museum, CCP’s original visual arts department circa 1969. The new museum is intended however as 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 interrogate its capacities to alter human reality. For the Philippines, CCP’s immediate stakeholder field, 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 itself into cybernetic futures, 21AM also sets itself up 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. In the immediate term, 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. 

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 their 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. 

Pio Abad and Frances Wadsworth Jones: 21AM Inaugural Exhibition

Conceptual artist Pio Abad and his wife, the jeweller Frances Wadsworth Jones, are presenting their work “The Collection of Jane Ryan and William Saunders: Restitution in AR” as the inaugural exhibition of the digital museum 21AM. 

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 that were never provided during the couple’s overlordship of the Philippines. 

21AM, the new museum facility of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, will be launched on February 25, 2022. Commenced as a 50th anniversary CCP project to vitalize critical imagination in cyberspace, 21AM’s exhibitions and public programs will perform anatomies of the structures of digital platforms and the quick shifts in the contests over what constitutes reality. 

The peripatetic but otherwise London-based Filipino-British couple, assisted by curator Kenneth Paranada, was commissioned by 21AM to exhibit this most recent and first digital iteration of their long-duration work that they describe as tracing “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. The present Augmented Reality version of exhibitions/provocations continues presenting the scale of excess of the Marcos couple during the Martial Law regime they imposed on the Philippines from 1972 – 1981. 

In this edition, the artist couple explores how digital technology might find “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.”

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 since exhibited 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 over 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.

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