Sunday, August 14, 2011


12 August 2011

the day after ccp closed the kulo exhibit, the day karen ocampo flores resigned from ccp, a crowing karen davila on teleradyo phoned ccp president raul sunico and said: CLEARLY YOU WILL HAVE TO CENSOR ARTWORK (!)

it would be funny if it didn’t hurt so much… this popular broadcast personality, a u.p. graduate, masscom if i’m not mistaken, obviously doesn’t know that her own freedom of expression should be everyone’s freedom of expression, that the freedom of expression she enjoys was hard-fought and hard-won, that her freedom of expression is contingent on everyone else’s freedom of expression, including, especially, that of artists like mideo cruz, and, yes, works like poleteismo, na hindi pambababoy kundi pagpupukaw ng kaisipan in this very corrupt and catholic country, and not necessarily to the detriment of religion or the undermining of one’s faith.

after all, it could very well be as ust alumnus, now u.p. professor, neil garcia says:

i take issue…with the knee-jerk reaction of some dominican apologists, who are quick to disown mideo cruz with outrageous passion. this artist is indeed a thomasian, for he cares about the church, with which his imagination appears to be slavishly fascinated, even if or precisely as he can only express this care (and this fascination) in disagreeing and disagreeable ways. after all, given the mass reproduction (and reproducibility) of the church’s ubiquitous, habitual and fully habituated images, their willful and disagreeable deformation may in fact be the best way to make them perceptible (and therefore, efficacious) again… this artist may well be an evangelizer of sorts, in which case the philippines’ great thomasian institution should simply revel in this unwitting “accomplishment.”

but i guess that’s all way too high for karen davila who, like imelda and the bishops, simply can’t stand the sight of the penis, can’t see the penis as anything but vulgar and obscene, especially as juxtaposed with images that she holds sacred. but bong austero, though disgusted and disturbed, too, sees the powerful implications of the images.

There are those who have condemned the art installation for its blasphemous and disgusting images and stop there, dismally failing to see through the powerful implications of the images in terms of preaching morality. Oh please, don’t we all use negative characterizations to preach what is right and moral? Our soap operas, plays, and movies rely on the sheer evil of antagonists to deliver powerful messages of redemption. We tell our kids stories of the big bad wolf and of the evil stepsisters to illustrate the power of positive values by contrast. Why can’t we draw parallels in this particular case? Just because something is disgusting and disturbing doesn’t mean it cannot be moral.

…The art installation takes things to extremes to bring home the message – it is art, for crying out loud, no less different from a play shot through with absurd imagery and over-the-top metaphors and symbolism.

…I have learned by viewing the exhibit that faith is strongest when put to the test. The icons that we revere are mere representations of the Supreme Being that we worship. When one’s faith is strong and resolute, provocation in the form of disgusting images can only strengthen it further rather than weaken it.

The tragedy is that we live in a country where freedom, tolerance and respect for diversity are mere theoretical concepts that are embraced only when these suit one’s comfort zone and never in situations when their application would truly matter.

worse we have a president who, after expressing disapproval of the artwork, now says there’s no censorship. yeah, right.

the major major question now for karen davila is, paano na ang iyong rh bill advocacy? and don’t tell me that one has nothing to do with the other. charlson ong in imelda redux makes the connection, too, especially since anti-rh congressmen and senators have gleefully joined the fray.

Why has Art that has heretofore been the concern of a few gallery-goers, artists, critics, collectors, students and sundry eggheads suddenly become the object of congressional ire?

Might it not be that the Religious Right, gearing up for a final RH fight, and stung by revelations on the “Montero Bishops” are opening up another front in their war against “secularists” and their perceived allies in the Aquino Administration? Your paranoia is as good as mine.

more and more it seems to me this was a test case, the bishops and their anti-rh constituency testing the waters: will scare tactics work, will the media be supportive? so paano na, karen davila? you’ve given the bishops an inch, next time they’ll take a foot. today it’s no to penises on artwork in the ccp, tomorrow it’ll be no to any and all mention of “ari” and “penis” in all media. paano na ang sex education that young and old alike are in dire need of?

it was a trap, karen davila, and you walked right into it. so now you’re cleaning up, it would seem. can’t find your headstart interview with chris millado on you tube, can’t find pinky webb’s xxx either. good job, girls. self-censorship after such major major foot-in-mouth disasters? not that we’ll ever forget. neither will the bishops who must oh-so-love-you. i’m sure though that it’s no ticket to any kind of heaven.

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