Sunday, August 21, 2011


'Poleteismo' work of 'immature' artist
August 16, 2011, 6:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — If anything, officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) are guilty of including the work of a “juvenile, immature” artist in the controversial “Kulo” exhibit, according to National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose.

The celebrated author spoke at Tuesday’s hearing conducted by the Senate committee on education, arts, and culture on clamor for legislation to regulate exhibits and performances to avoid the controversies like the one sparked by the “blasphemous” mixed media collage of Mideo Cruz entitled “Poleteismo.”

F. Sionil Jose said the CCP officials should have been more perceptive in determining what kind of art should be put on public view.

“All art is propaganda, but not all propaganda is an art,” he said.

Still, F. Sionil Jose said, “Pinag-isipan ko ginawa ko, mahirap maging artista. I hope the CCP would be more sensitive to the disposition of the artists. Art is a very demanding mistress,” Jose said.

Following the three-hour discussion among national artists, constitutional experts, and CCP officials, Senator Edgardo Angara, chairman of the committee, said there is no need for legislation but only for an review of the policies employed by the CCP in the selection of exhibits and performances to prevent another “art mishap.”

“Offhand, I feel there’s no need of any new legislation because more than a new law, what we need is perhaps a review of the existing process and procedure of the CCP in the selection of exhibits or performances, considering that it is one of our leading cultural centers in the Philippines and if I may say so a very successful cultural venue for all Filipinos,” said Angara.

Angara also said there is also no need to demand the resignation of members of the CCP board and other officials over the controversy.

“I would rather have the power of public opinion be the judge, and if necessary, the one who will measure the performance of artists and cultural institutions,” he said.

“I do not believe that we have to impose to the CCP management a resignation or a (possible) prosecution either against managers and cultural officers,” he said.

Angara said that since CCP visual arts division head, Karen Flores, had already resigned amid the furor, there is no need for the “whole institution to be brought down.”

Emily Abrera, CCP chairperson, appears to have taken to heart F. Sionil Jose’s and Angara’s calls for better sensitivity and care in mounting exhibits and choice of artists and their works.

Abrera said the hearing was an “educational moment” for the board members and she assured the Senate and the public that CCP policies “are undergoing review.”

Earlier, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada called for CCP officials to resign for allowing the public exhibition of “blasphemous” art.

Rev. Jose Palma, vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), called on the Senate to craft a legislation that would uphold freedom of expression but would set parameters to promote respect for religious beliefs.

“We hold that no human freedom is absolute, it has corresponding responsibilities, to the law of God, rights of others, and for the common good,” Palma said.

“We do not question his motivation but yung dating ng kanyang art, it was desecration,” Palma said.

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