Art vs Religion
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
An art exhibit at the main gallery of the Cultural Center of the Philippines that has been the center of controversy because the artworks did not sit well with the sensibilities of conservative but powerful Catholics in the country, has finally been shut down after the board of the CCP initially defended their choice of exhibit despite the uproar that it had caused in this predominantly Catholic country.
The exhibit, titled “Kulo”, was launched June 17, and featured the works of 32 artists from the University of Santo Tomas. Mideo Cruz, the artist of the controversial pieces which feature a crucifix with a phallic symbol and a picture of Jesus Christ with rabbit ears, has already had his work vandalized and has reportedly received death threats for his rather naïve and crude attempt to provoke debates and critical thinking.
The controversial exhibit never really had a chance after Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing condemned it, with the latter filing a resolution calling on the CCP board to resign for allowing the “distasteful and sacrilegious exhibit”; along with Pro-life Philippines president, Eric Manalang, saying they would file criminal charges against Cruz and the leadership of the CCP. Such strong reactions against an art exhibit have made it pretty clear that this country is not yet ready for thought provoking but disrespectful artists or art works.
Because of this incident, the leadership of the CCP will have to reevaluate their assumptions with regards to the kind of art they can display. Maybe one day the Filipino public will be able to view, discuss, dissect, and rationally debate on the multitude of meanings and messages that different kinds of art may have, no matter how ugly or offending to certain groups those forms of self-expression may be. But because that day is obviously not yet here, those in charge of the CCP will have to be a little more circumspect as they go about their secular job of promoting all kinds of art in this country.*