Outset Scotland supported a specially commissioned work by Pio Abad’s for his solo exhibition at CCA, Glasgow, Notes on Decomposition.
Not a Shield, but a Weapon, 2016 (one hundred imitation leather replicas of black leather handbag owned by Margaret Thatcher, polyester sheets)
In the exhibition Notes on Decomposition, Abad investigated notions of value, cultural artefacts, and the political histories of the UK and the Philippines. The tone of the exhibition was set clearly at its entrance, where Flag III greeted the viewer. This flag subverted the usual connotations of the ‘red flag’ and sickle, presenting instead a banner for champagne socialism, or perhaps even avowed capitalism.
In the second space, twelve, highly detailed, large-scale drawings and an accompanying wall text (collectively entitled Notes on Decomposition) offered a catalogue of objects sold in significant, global auctions – from the impounded silverware of Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos in 1991, to the Lehman Brothers’ collection of Chinese porcelain in 2010 and Margaret Thatcher’s personal effects in 2015. Alongside this hung Enlarged reproduction of a photograph showing the presidential living room in Malacanang Palace in Manila, immediately after the ousting of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in 1986.
Finally, in the third room, Not a Shield, but a Weapon – an installation of 100 brand new, reproduced handbags, laid out with military precision on 4 polyester sheets – referred to the sale of Margaret Thatcher’s black leather Asprey handbag, which sold for £25,000 in 2011, in a charity auction held by the disgraced Tory peer Jeffrey Archer. Abad not only mimicked the handbag, but also the sale itself, as each imitation handbag was available to buy online during the exhibition, for the same price at which the original was sold in 2011.
PIO ABAD (b. 1983, Manila, Philippines) lives and works in London. He began studying Fine Art at the University of the Philippines, in Manila, before receiving a BA from Glasgow School of Art and an MA from the Royal Academy Schools, London. His practice is concerned with the social and political signification of things. His work, in a range of media including drawing, installation and photography, uses strategies of appropriation to mine alternative or repressed historical events, unravel official accounts and draw out threads of complicity between incidents, ideologies and people. Often taking on the form of domestic accessories, Abad’s artworks glide seamlessly between these histories, enacting quasi-fictional combinations with their leftovers. He has exhibited around the world, including shows at Gasworks, London (where he also holds a studio); Zabludowicz Collection, London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow; e-flux, New York City; Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; and the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD), Manila.
CCA is a hub for arts events, cultural organisations and artists, situated on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow city centre. Alongside CCA’s visual arts programme of exhibitions, artists’ events and residencies, the venue is host to a range of festivals, creative organisations and arts groups who bring their own events to CCA through an open-source approach to programming. At the heart of all of CCA’s activities is the desire to work with artists, generate new projects and present them to the widest possible audience. CCA also produces a range of artist residencies, both in the venue and internationally.