Controversial ‘Poleteismo’ not art, says national artist

By Kim Tan, GMA News



National Artist for Literature Dr. Francisco Sionil Jose on Tuesday said artist Mideo Cruz’s controversial artwork “Poleteismo” was not art at all.

“I contend that this work is not art at all,” Jose said during the Senate education committee hearing on the “Kulo” exhibit displayed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Among the works included in the Kulo exhibit was Cruz’s mixed-media collage called “Poleteismo,” juxtaposed religious images with clowns, Mickey Mouse ears, and a bright red penis.

Jose said “Poleteismo” was the attempt of an “immature” and “juvenile” artist to express this view.

He likewise asked the CCP to “be more perceptive” in determining the kind of art that should be displayed inside its premises.

“There is really nothing obscene in art. All art is propaganda but not all propaganda is art. Art is a horrible and very demanding mistress,” Jose said.

Despite this, he also appealed to the Senate not to ask the CCP officials to resign because of the controversy.

National artist for visual arts Dr. Abdulmari Asia Imao, who was also present during the hearing, agreed with Jose.

Pasensyahan na lang tayo paminsan-minsan,” he said.

Freedom of expression is not absolute

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reminded Cruz that freedom of expression is not absolute, especially if his method of expression offends other people.

“Human freedom is a gift of God and has corresponding responsibilites,” said CBCP vice president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

Palma noted, however, that they are condemning Cruz’s artwork and not Cruz as a person.

“We do not question his motivation (be) it be good, what we question (is) yung dating to us which was desecration,” he said.

University of Santo Tomas vice rector Rev. Pablo Tiong said they also believe that freedom of expression is not absolute.

“The exhibit is not a project of the UST. The UST considers as offensive (Cruz’s work) to Catholics and the Catholic religion,” he said during the same hearing.

Tiong also emphasized that Cruz was a student but did not earn a degree from the UST. – VVP, GMA News


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