By Kimberly Jane Tan
The president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), where the controversial “Kulo” art exhibit was held, admitted on Tuesday that he too was shocked when he saw the artworks included in the display.
“As a Catholic, I was shocked,” CCP president Raul Sunico said during Tuesday’s Senate education committee hearing on the CCP exhibit.
Sunico said the management earlier wanted to close down the “Kulô” exhibit but they also wanted to uphold artistic freedom.
He said the agency’s management committee had issued a memorandum on July 14 recommending that “Kulô” be closed down.
Sunico said that he even gave the order to CCP visual arts division head Karen Flores, who approved the exhibit. Flores resigned even before the Senate inquiry.
Among the artworks displayed was artist Mideo Cruz’s mixed-media collage called “Poleteismo,” which juxtaposed Catholic religious images with clowns, Mickey Mouse ears, and a bright red penis.
Meanwhile, CCP chairperson Emily Abrera, said Cruz’s artwork was “shock art.”
Abrera said she suggested that the artists involved in the exhibit be given a chance to explain what they were trying to say.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, who had earlier asked the CCP officials to resign, repeatedly asked the officials present why they did not stop the exhibit despite being Catholics.
“I honestly believed and continue to believe it is our duty as the CCP to provide space for people to engage in this kind of discussion,” she said.
“We had the responsibility toward the artists that our work was to uphold art freedom,” she added.
During the hearing, CCP trustee Zenaida Tantoco said she had written to Sunico saying that many trustees believed that the exhibit should be closed down because some of the artworks were “blasphemous.”
CCP trustee Isabel Wilson, on the other hand, said that they agreed to conduct a forum last August 5 to listen to all sides.
“We agreed that this was the way to go, let the forum proceed,” she said.
However, she said they all agreed that the gallery had to be closed down the following weekend.
Abrera said the decision was also reached after they began receiving threatening texts and e-mails.
“Yes we caved in, but we caved in to threats,” she said. – VVP, GMA News