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LOOK: Did Kenneth Cobonpue’s APEC Souvenir Copy a Local Artwork?

LOOK Did Kenneth Cobonpue's APEC Souvenir Copy a Local Artwork

Even if we’re not part of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, we got to see what the government and the delegates have been up to thanks to social media. Nothing got past netizens, including the looks of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto. One of the things that netizens noticed was the APEC souvenir designed by Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

The souvenir was a limited edition sculpture made of made of brass and finished in yellow gold, pale silver, and warm copper, with the islands in the middle made of laser-cut metal sheets and wood veneer. The entire sculpture is covered in a glass vitrine. It was called Sama-Sama, and was given to those who will attend the welcome dinner tonight.

Closely, the sculpture are small figures linked to one another, representing smaller parts to create a whole, similar to what APEC does.

Netizens have pointed out that the souvenir is eerily similar to the work of Ryan Villamael, a local artist. Last year, Villamael won the Fernando Zobel Prize for Visual Arts at the Ateneo Art Awards 2015 for Isles, a paper-cut map inside a glass vitrine.

Cobonpue has aired his side on the comments, telling Rappler that Sama-Sama was inspired by a collection he did in 2005. He said:

I have not been familiar with the work of Mr Ryan Villamael. He is undoubtedly a talented artist doing exceptional work in cut paper, an art form that I personally enjoy. The glass vitrine protecting our work is the only commonality as far as materials, method, intent, and themes of both our works are concerned. I am an advocate of intellectual property issues in the country and will continue to see it respected and protected.

On the use of glass vitrines, Cobonpue said that they have been used for centuries to protect art.

Villamael also shared his opinion to Rappler, saying:

I know that [Kenneth is] very much against intellectual dishonesty, and he has always been a great role model for Western and Oriental creatives alike. I have always thought of him as a global icon of 21st century design, and I have nothing but respect for him. Let us all celebrate Filipino artistry as the East and the West converge on our shores during this year’s APEC. This is our moment. Let’s make it count!

What do you think? Share your thoughts below!