MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on Tuesday closed down the controversial “Kulo” exhibit showing defaced religious icons after CCP Board members and the artist received threats.
“Due to numerous emails, text messages and other letters sent to various officers of the CCP, and to the artists themselves, with an increasing number of threats to persons and property, the members of the Board of the Cultural Center of the Philippines have decided to close down the Main Gallery where the Kulo Exhibit is on display,” the CCP said in a statement.
The CCP said security threats became more alarming after a couple vandalized the controversial art works of Mideo Cruz and attempted to set fire to the exhibit.
“Subsequent hate mails and threats to members of the Board intensified following this incident,” the CCP said.
The CCP management said it is now reviewing its policies and are taking steps to enable its officers and staff to make more informed decisions in the future. It said the center will continue to act as catalyst for free expression of Filipino artists.
The CCP’s decision came a day after former First Lady and CCP founder Imelda Marcos questioned why officials allowed the exhibit.
CCP officials have come under fire for exhibiting Mideo Cruz’s controversial art pieces. The works fanning controversy are images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary which were adorned with objects not related to Christianity — from a crucifix with a wooden penis to a Christ the King figurine with rabbit ears.
Catholic groups have condemned the exhibit for being “sacrilegious and blasphemous” and are set to sue Cruz and CCP board members.
Lawyer Jo Imbong of the St. Thomas More Society of Lawyers said their group will pursue the case despite the closure of the exhibit because “the Christian nation has been offended.”
“The Christian groups will pursue the charges because a serious offense has been committed and the CCP and the artist are accountable under the law,” Imbong said.
Imbong earlier said that the CCP and Cruz are liable for violating Revised Penal Code’s (RPC) Article 201 on immoral doctrines, obscene publications, and indecent shows.
For his part, Pro-Life Philippines president Eric Manalang, one of those who demanded that the exhibit be stopped, said ending the exhibit will not stop their protest rally on Wednesday outside the CPP.
“Stopping the exhibit does not stop the protest tomorrow… the bigger picture of our government being the pied piper leading us to disaster on a straight path going to hell,” Manalang said.
Malacañang earlier refused to comment on the exhibit, saying that the CCP decided on the matter independent of the Palace.
“I think we should not be involved in a matter that is purely a decision made by CCP and this is about art,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. With a report from Noel Alamar, radio dzMM; and CBCPNews