There are so many filters available on different social media platforms, but have you ever encountered one that is an iteration of Imelda Marcos’ jewelry? On April 28, an AR filter launched, presenting a digital showcase of The Collection of Jane Ryan & William Saunders, an installation of fabricated ghost jewels. This is taken from the Hawaii Collection amassed by kleptocrats Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. 

A post on the exhibit’s Instagram page encourages people to use the AR filter and use the hashtags #isauli (to recover) and #digitalrestitution. A few people already posted their entries showing pieces of jewelry seen inside a microwave, on the streets, and even beside their dog. 

The Collection of Jane Ryan and William Saunders is a project created by a married couple, London-based Filipino artist Pio Abad and British jewelry-maker Frances Wadsworth Jones. The name of the collection was based on the false identities used by the Marcoses to make offshore accounts in Switzerland. This project goes back to when they first launched the 3D plastic replicas of the 24-piece facsimiles in the Honolulu Biennial in 2019.

When Abad started this project in 2012, he had the support of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), an agency that is tasked to sequester Marcoses’ loot. He spent two years creating 3D-printed necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and tiaras using a computer graphics software called Rhino.

In 2015, Christie’s, a British auction house, came to Manila to photograph and value the jewelry. However, President Rodrigo Duterte was elected for president the following year, so the PCGG assumed that many of their materials would be at risk once Duterte won. The PCCG shared the photographs for the jewelry auction to Abad.

Abad shared in an interview with Studio International,Legally, I knew I could not use these images because they were government property, so Frances and I decided to use the images to create something else—facsimiles. Frances, who is a jewellery designer, recreated models of the jewels, facet by facet. I always say that she is in charge of production and I am in charge of political trauma.’

The website (www.janeryanandwilliamsaunders.com) also shows some pieces of their collection. Included in the collection is a pearl and diamond set with ear clips and brooch in yellow gold. It has a description that reads, ‘Equivalent to the average annual income of 15 Filipinos.’

The Collection of Jane Ryan & William Saunders, <b> This AR filter is a reminder on the Marcos fam&#8217;s ill-gotten wealth </b>
Screenshot from janeryanandwilliamsaunders.com

Abad expressed in the interview that they have plans on exhibiting the entire project at the Ateneo de Manila University’s art gallery in 2022, in time for upcoming presidential elections in the country. He suspects that the Marcoses will use the elections to recapture presidency again.

The AR filter can be accessed through a mobile browser via their official website.