Category: ccp

inquirer, blasphemy, sodomy

i leave it to radikalchick to respond to the world-class self-centered bigoted douchebag (in the words of carlos celdran) and his ilk who insist on their narrow shallow fallow takes on mideo’s art and censorship and the ccp.  but this letter to the editor from ernie lapuz of sto. tomas, batangas, calling out the inquirer on its “tunnel vision” and disconnect with reality, deserves to be shared and taken to heart (and mind).


A fictitious literary character, Dorian Gray, kept a special portrait of himself. Dorian never aged a day and remained handsome through time. His portrait aged instead of him, and with every detestable sin he committed his portrait became more and more hideous.

“Poleteismo,” by Mideo M. Cruz, is a hideous portrait or artwork. It is so hideous and disgusting that it is being bashed over TV, radio, newspapers, and in the streets. And it’s quite understandable why people are angry, but this anger may have given even the Inquirer a bit of tunnel vision when its editorial on the artwork said, “If all this does not constitute sacrilege, blasphemy, or attack on religion, we don’t know what does.” Come on, surely the Inquirer knows of worse things than “Poleteismo” that constitute blasphemy and sacrilege. The paper writes about it every day. For instance, it has written about an absurd game show host who promotes mendicancy while idiotizing and exploiting the poor by making them salivate over thousand-peso hand-outs while he earns millions for himself. Doesn’t he make Christ look like Mickey Mouse or a clown every time he makes fun of the poor and declaring “All I want to do is help the poor”?

This paper writes about the abuses of the government and the Church. Can’t it feel in its hearts and guts that to call a cheating and utterly corrupt former president, her “First Plunderer” and their cohorts “devout Catholics” is more disgusting than a diseased male organ stuck on a crucifix? And when “Princes of the Church,” filthy rich “Evangelists,” “Ministers” and “Anointed Sons of God” ask and even demand favors (SUVs, a new superhighway along their vast prime property, special appointments, etc.) from government in exchange for their “constant support” of leaders who “steal from the poor,” they actually prostitute religion. Translate this reality into artwork and we may behold a full cathedral ceiling mural of Jesus Christ being held down by “most reverend” clergymen while being sodomized by hordes of “honorable” political leaders. Such an utterly sacrilegious, blasphemous, disgusting, offensive and hideous cathedral artwork will surely be despised, condemned and vanished.

Now what about the reality that is faithfully reflected in that virtual cathedral artwork? Do we see our reality as perfectly normal, acceptable or even handsome as Dorian, or should I say Juan? What kind of infernal gall have we in condemning people who hold up a mirror to us to show us bluntly the true state and configuration of our nation? “Poleteismo” is a reflection of the reality of Juan de la Cruz. And I thank God for the art that serves as our mirror. We can’t banish our collective ugliness reflected in the mirror by bashing that mirror. Surely, God’s mysterious ways are at work here as He Himself is holding that mirror to us. Art as a mirror reveals that it is us who actually commit the sacrilege. It is the reality of our nation, government, churches and ourselves that we need to reform.

Biga, Sto Tomas, Batangas

media & mideo
The real immaturity
The morality police came to town (with a lynching mob)

Iconoclasm in art / failure of nerve

By Elmer Ordonez

Senator Edgardo Angara may well have put the “Kulo” controversy to rest by not recommending sanctions against the CCP board. All possible sides were heard at last Tuesday’s Senate probe presided over by the former UP president. Enlightened and benighted views and questions were entertained. Angara seemed satisfied that the CCP board promised to review their procedures for exhibits.

All’s well that ends well? Here’s my take on the issue:

Weeks of pressure from the Church clergy/ partisans including Palace intervention compelled the CCP board to pull out the entire “Kulo” exhibit, not just the controversial installation “Polytheism” of Mideo Cruz.

CCP chair Emily Abrera said the board did not “cave in” to the pressure but a decision was reached, by referendum, to withdraw the exhibit before its expiry today. Against the closure were Abrera, Florangel Braid, and Carol Espiritu while a majority of six including CCP president Raul Sunico were for closure for reasons of “public safety.”

The exhibit had already been shown at Ateneo and UP Diliman and no problem arose from viewers. The exhibit was to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal by alumni artists of Rizal’s alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, celebrating its 400th year of its founding. Historically, the UST’s school of fine arts under the late National Artist Victorio Edades was a pioneer in modernist art while the University of the Philippines was still following the classical style with Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino as leading lights. Edades’ 1928 exhibit triggered a running debate between the moderns and the conservatives.

At the about the same time Jose Garcia Villa was suspended from the UP for his “obscene” poem “Man-Songs” by a committee led by traditional poet Dean Jorge Bocobo who must have thought Villa’s modernist work was “bad writing.”

The advent of modern art or “the shock of the new” came rather late in the Philippines. Mideo Cruz’s installation would have been in its element during the time of “Dadaism” in Europe. Edades’ works were modern in style but were they infused with “ideology and politics” like Picasso’s anti-fascist “Guernica?” Edades’ “The Builders” had a proletarian touch; his students were more into depicting Filipino history and identity like the murals of Carlos “Botong” Francisco.

“Dadaism” itself (with Marcel Duchamp as a favorite example with his “Fountain,” a urinal hanging from his installation) was a protest against the senselessness of the First World War and against bourgeois art. He did not expect the public would tolerate his “shock art.” Just as the academe in Loyola and Diliman did not create a big fuss over Cruz’s work. Thanks to a TV camera man who showed shots to the bishops when the trouble began.

“Kulo” or revolutionary ferment was obviously inspired by Rizal’s iconoclasm in the last decades of the 19th century when Rizal and the Propagandists produced incendiary literature that would lead to the 1896-1898 Revolution that ended Spanish colonial/monastic rule. Rizal and Marcelo del Pilar were particularly scathing in their anti-friar writings. The two novels of Rizal to this day are taught in some schools expurgating or sanitizing passages considered offensive to the Church.

Constantino Tejero of Inquirer thinks Cruz’s “Polytheism” is expressive of “racial memory embedded in the subconscious”— a virtual history of church and colonial abuses up to the present. Lito Zulueta also of Inquirer consigns Cruz’s work to iconoclastic art. Iconoclasm has a long history of idol-smashing (literally and figuratively) in religion, politics, culture and art. The Church itself destroyed images and icons carried by its forces deemed responsible for their defeat in battle.

In Rizal’s time the theocratic state responded to his “blasphemous” and “heretical” novels by banning them and ultimately having him shot by firing squad. Today, if some defenders of the faith have their way, they would perhaps have the offending artist burned at stake like Joan of Arc, and those responsible in the CCP for approving the exhibit, charged in court and made to resign.

Those who find Cruz’s work offensive have the right to protest or to picket the exhibit but do they have the right to resort to vandalism or arson? The latter act conjures images of book-burning, and history is replete with examples of this kind of censorship in totalitarian and supposedly democratic societies. The Church provides the faithful with an index of approved books bearing the phrase “nihil obstat” or nothing objectionable. “Prior restraint” cannot be imposed in a pluralistic society.

The UP Arts studies department statement provides the aesthetic and intellectual justification for engaging controversial art works in discussion rather than banning them. It says: “While there are contending interpretations of an image presented by art, the ethical course of action is to process the contentions and that is what art ensures: a process of communicative action. The closure of an exhibition only achieves the closure of democratic, informed and thoughtful engagement.”

The CCP board may still redeem itself by standing their ground against the recrudescence of obscurantism and repression. They will not be alone.