(Updated 5:03 p.m.) The Senate education, arts, and culture committee on Tuesday decided it will no longer subpoena Mideo Cruz, the artist responsible for the controversial artwork displayed in an exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
“It’s not really the artist that is under inquiry so to speak. It’s really the CCP as a public institution,” Senate education comittee chairman Sen. Edgardo Angara told reporters after the panel’s hearing into the exhbit issue.
Cruz is the artist responsible for the mixed-media collage called “Poleteismo,” which sparked vehement protests from Catholic church leaders and politicians for juxtaposing religious images with clowns, Mickey Mouse ears, and a bright red penis.
In an email to GMA News Online, Cruz said he skipped the Senate proceedings because the issue no longer concerns on his work “but an issue of art education and the broader fight for freedom of expression.”
“For this reason, I abide with the decisions of a broad alliance that I am closely working with, in advancing these cause instead of feeding my self-serving impulse to defend my work or my person to each querry, insult or threat being hurled at me. After all, the purpose of my artworks have always been to instill critical thought more than in selling my name,” Cruz said.
Earlier in the day, Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada asked that Cruz be issued a subpoena for failing to show up during Tuesday’s hearing.
Angara, however, said that they will no longer conduct another hearing so there is no need to summon him anymore.
“There is no more need for another session. We believe that this particular session has been very quite comprehensive and we heard practically all the stakeholders involved in the controversy. We believe that we have exhausted, perhaps we have already pursued all lines of inquiry that we need not set another session,” he said.
But Angara said they still have to weigh up to what extent an artist can express himself.
In a television interview on Friday, Cruz sought forgiveness from people offended by his art, but insisted his inclination is to do projects that are aimed at challenging the mind.
On Tuesday, he reiterated his apology.
“I apologize if I have offended anyone. My artworks are to me, like a carpenter to his hammer, my tools to reexamine our public morals and ideals. In the end, I assume that my audience would exercise their logical decision-making to reject or accept the message or to sway them towards improving society,” he said.
“I apologize if I hold a contrary view to others but I honestly believe that providing a space for a different voice is necessary for mature society,” he added. — Kim Tan/RSJ, GMA News