The Collection of Jane Ryan and William Saunders is an ongoing research project that spans a number of solo and group exhibitions from 2014. The project draws attention to the roles that certain artefacts have played in the recent history of the Philippines, specifically in shaping the cultural legacy of former Philippine dictators Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and the absurd postcolonial ideology they enforced under the auspices of capitalist democracies during the Cold War. Using inexpensive reproduction techniques, Abad recreates items from their lavish collection of Regency-era silverware, old master paintings of uneven quality and dubious provenance and, curiously, Yugoslav naïf paintings on glass.
In reconstructing this inventory, Abad identifies how the Marcoses’ brand of civility was carefully choreographed and performed in ways that overshadowed many less triumphant histories and facts, from amusing anecdotes to far graver social ills. As a glaring example of the incongruous nationalist ideology that they sought to establish during their plunderous regime, Jane Ryan and William Saunders were the false identities used by the couple to register their account with Credit Suisse Zurich in 1968, the first of many accounts that enabled them to transform $10 billion from the Philippine treasury into private wealth.