Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mideo Cruz and Polytheism

An art installation of Catholic religious symbols at the Cultural Center of the Philippines opened last week. Unexpectedly, the artist Mideo Cruz created scandal and heated debates on his exhibit. 

We got intrigued by his work. What does this exhibit show that so many people got upset with it? Why did it create uproar with the Catholic conservatives? 

My husband finished Fine Arts in college so art appreciation is a thing for him. One night, my husband said he will be going out with some of his college friends to see the highly-criticized exhibit. I insisted on going with him. I may not be an artist like them, but at the very least, I know how to appreciate artists and their works. (I got 1.25 in Humanities 101! LOL.) Besides, I would also like to personally see what Cruz calls his “artwork”. 

Cruz, a 37-year old visual and performance artist, called his art installation “Poleteismo” or “Polytheism”. According to him, polytheism refers to the worship of relics and how idolatry evolves through history and modern culture. The art installation displayed is a blend of Christ and common symbols of pop culture. 

There are a lot of things that can be seen on his exhibit. There were the former PBA player and senator Robert Jaworski endorsing Dr. J. rubbing alcohol, former beauty queen-turned-actress Alma Concepcion smiling over Champion cigarettes, and two Thai actors advocating Coca-Cola. A photo of United States President Barack Obama is also displayed in his art installation. 

Despite the various items shown on his three-walled exhibit, two displays caught my attention. They are the most controversial displays on his art installation which include a giant wooden crucifix with a movable red penis and a statue of Christ the King with bunny ears, portraying as Mickey Mouse. These may be the reasons why the Catholic community is crying to boycott this exhibit. 

What is our verdict? I simply find this exhibit beyond acceptable norms. We have the freedom of expression, yes, but freedom should come with responsibility so that we can enjoy it more. Even if you are not a Catholic, you will feel that the Christ these images represent was disrespected. In my personal opinion, his so-called art is distasteful and worse, sacrilegious. This exhibit is blasphemous… a mockery of the Catholic faith. My husband did not even consider his works an art. 

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