Monday, August 15, 2011


CCP exec: 'Poleteismo served as awakening'
08/12/2011 02:07 PM

An official of the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Friday defended the controversial art exhibit Kulô, which the CCP was forced to close, but acknowledged that even other artists found offensive Mideo Cruz's mixed media installation Poleteismo.

"Even among us in the art world, many were offended when we first viewed the artwork," CCP vice president and artistic director Chris Millado said at a press conference Friday morning.

"But it served as an awakening. It roused our senses, challenged us to take a deeper look... Should I judge the artwork for what I see on the surface or should I try to understand why it is affecting me in this way? This is the experience of art."

Reacting to the CCP's decision to prematurely end the exhibit's run last August 9, Millado said, "The mandate of the CCP is to nurture artists, to nurture their works and to nurture this space called artistic freedom."

He said Cruz's work engages the viewer, urging him to look at things that are going on in society. Poleteismo juxtaposed religious images with objects that included representations of genitalia.

Media blamed for confusion

Millado took a dig at the media for framing Cruz's artwork in such a way that people confused it with the entire exhibit.

"It was actually the media that shaped the reactions to this controversy in the popular mind. We felt the media was able to take the frame of those who were offended by it, take the frame of some politicians who reacted or overreacted to it, but were somehow hard-pressed in terms of taking the frame of the artist," said Millado.

According to him, Cruz's artwork was only one piece in an exhibit that featured artworks from 32 artists.

Moreover, he said the works dealt with current issues. "Sometimes it cannot be avoided that the reflections can be rather unpleasant. It forces us to actually reflect, to look at situations from different views and angles."

Also, Millado stressed there was no basis for any of the CCP officials and board members to resign, adding that former Visual Arts Department head Karen Flores resigned on her own volition.

"Ang paniniwala ko, walang basehan ang panawagan na mag-resign ang liderato ng CCP. If the board is at fault, we can be faulted for defending the right to artistic freedom," he said, emphasizing that the decision to close the exhibit was for safety.

Apart from Flores' resignation, the CCP Board of Directors closed down the exhibit due to threats to property and life.

Earlier reports indicated there were threats to the lives of those involved in the controversy, including Flores herself.

Charges welcomed

Charges have been filed against CCP officials as well as artist Cruz, allegedly violating Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code on obscene exhibitions and indecent shows.

"Wine-welcome namin ang pagsampa ng mga demandang ito dahil ang korte ay bahagi ng diskurso at engagement with the public. Maganda at mapunta na sa legal na usapin at mapag-usapan nang maayos itong tinatawag na artistic expression," Millado said.

He also expressed hope that the court would defend the freedom of expression, adding that the issue goes beyond the arts, and the media should join in defending such freedom.

Despite the consequences, Millado says that the whole controversy has proven how powerful art is.

"I think one of the greatest achievements is that it [the issue] proves to the public how potent art can be. We should take a second look if not give it importance in our lives and make it a point of reflection, engagement, understanding and if not even a place for participation," he said.

Depicted as devil

Meanwhile, Cruz might find himself being depicted as a devil in an indignation rally in Bacolod City in Western Visayas next week.

Catholics from Bacolod Diocese are set to hold an indignation rally against Cruz at the San Sebastian Cathedral at 5 p.m. Monday, news site Visayan Daily Star reported.

"For us it is a sin of sacrilege. It is objectionable and unacceptable," San Sebastian Cathedral rector Felix Pasquin said of Cruz's exhibit.

Pasquin said they were particularly outraged at what Cruz in the exhibit did to the crucifix and the image of Jesus Christ.

He said that while artist Cruz claimed freedom of expression, “our church teachings tell us that a work of art that is immoral is unaesthetic."

“Moral perversion has no place in arts," he added.

Organizers plan to bring to Monday's rally an effigy of Cruz with horns on his head and a tail, Pasquin said.

But the participants said they will burn only the symbols of the devil because “We do not condemn the sinner but the sins."

Expected to join the are lay associations, basic ecclesiastical communities, parishioners, renewal groups, and parishes under the four vicariates in Bacolod, Pasquin said. — LBG/HS, GMA News

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