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Statement of Withdrawal from Cultural Center of the Philippines Nothing to Declare Curatorial Board



The curatorial board of Nothing to Declare (NTD) an international art project scheduled to exhibit at the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum, Yuchengco Museum and Cultural Center of the Philippines from November 16, 2011 to January 2012, has decided to withdraw from exhibiting at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Gallery.


Nothing to Declare is a contribution to contemporary discussions on migration, not only of people across borders, but of forms and realities across time and space.  The NTD exhibits were supposed to function as platforms for art education, art criticism, workshops, artist talks and other activities aiming to make contemporary art accessible to a wider public, and to create a space for a lively exchange of ideas, even and especially  if those ideas are unpopular.  NTD focuses on those who have nothing to declare, those whose marginality is source of intervention and strength, of subterfuge and resistance, of constraint as well as change.


Recent events tell us that CCP, under the present administrative set-up is no longer the appropriate venue for such curatorial vision to thrive. In August 5, 2011, CCP has set a dangerous precedent against freedom of expression when it prematurely closed the “Kulo” exhibition featuring 32 works from artists who contributed to the curatorial concept of revolutionary ferment in contemporary Philippine society as inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal’s life. Key people of NTD –as individuals and as part of collectives and institutions – persistently urged the management to reopen the exhibit so that intelligent discussions can take place in a safe haven where artists as public intellectuals have the freedom to exhibit. The exhibit remained closed – clearly at odds not only with the position taken by the NTD organizers, but with the project’s curatorial predisposition towards subterfuge and resistance.


Such a vision and predisposition must find a home outside CCP, an institution unable to protect its autonomy and fulfil its mandate. Therefore we, NTD organizers urge fellow educators, cultural workers, curators and artists to come together and form alternative venues and spaces conducive to forming a community of critical audiences of art.


No to Censorship!

Uphold Freedom of Expression!


Flaudette May Datuin, head curator, UP Department of Art Studies faculty

Leo Abaya, associate curator (Vargas Museum), UP College of Fine Arts faculty

Claro Ramirez, associate curator (Yuchengco Museum)

Karen Flores, associate curator (alternative space) and former Visual Arts Director, CCP Precious Leano and Josephine Turalba, organizers


CCP installation has devout Catholics crying ‘sacrilege’

02-Aug-11, 5:56 PM | Michaela Cabrera, Reuters

Artist Mideo Cruz looks at an element in his art installation “Poleteismo”, on exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The installation, which mixes Christ with kitschy symbols of pop culture, has set off an uproar among conservative Catholics, who say the installations are a mockery of their faith. (photo by Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)


MANILA, Philippines – An art installation that mixes Christ with kitschy symbols of pop culture and includes a crucifix with a movable penis has set off an uproar in the Philippines among conservative Catholics, who say the installations are a mockery of their faith.

Mideo Cruz, the artist responsible for the installation – intended to be a commentary on icon worship – has been branded a “demon” and bombarded with death threats and hate mail since his work featured in an exhibit in Manila that began June 17.

“May your soul burn to (sic) hell, you Devil pro (sic) artist,” wrote a furious Facebook user, one of dozens denouncing Cruz’s work.

Cruz, a 37-year-old visual and performance artist who has exhibited in such international art centers as New York, Paris and Tokyo, said he had wanted to provoke a reaction but was surprised by the violence of the response.

“You can’t force people. But I just hope that when we look at something, the process doesn’t stop at the surface,” he said.

Cruz said his installation, “Poleteismo” or “Polytheism,” is about the worship of relics and how idolatry evolves through history and modern culture.

Posters of Christ and the Virgin Mary, crucifixes and religious curios recall the 300 years of Spanish rule that implanted Catholicism in the Philippines, while images of Mickey Mouse, the Statue of Liberty and U.S. President Barack Obama point to the lasting influence of U.S. imperialism.

“This speaks about objects that we worship, how we create these gods and idols, and how we in turn are created by our gods and idols,” Cruz said.

One part of the installation is a giant wooden crucifix with a bright red penis that can be moved up and down, a symbol of a patriarchal society where men are “worshipped,” he said.

Early versions of the work, which also includes kitschy posters and souvenirs from Cruz’s travels, were exhibited as long ago as 2002 in other galleries, but the current furor is unprecedented.

“It is very offensive to the majority, since the majority are Christian. It’s sort of mocking the faith,” said Emmanuel Fernandez, a teacher who is a member of the staunchly Catholic social group Knights of Columbus.

Roman Catholics make up roughly 80 percent of the Philippine population, and conservatives are vocal in the public arena. Catholic lobbyists have aggressively fought against a legislative bill that seeks to raise awareness on artificial contraception, and bishops have castigated proponents of same-sex marriage and divorce.

Calls for the exhibit to be boycotted or shut down have flooded the Cultural Center of the Philippines, where it is being held, and a Catholic university mentioned as the alma mater of all the artists in the exhibition asked for its name to be withdrawn.

But Karen Ocampo-Flores, the centre’s head for visual arts, said the center was only fulfilling its mandate of cultivating artistic expression and regretted that the installation was seen only in pieces and not in its entirety.

“I would call it moralist hysteria, I would call it religious myopia,” she said.

“Yes, you can have your faith, and that can be respected. But you must also be able to tolerate and understand other people’s views.”

Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, who heads a diocese in Manila, said Catholics must not be too quick to judge the artist without sufficient information. But he also said artists must consider their audience.

“There may be some works of art, which … would not be in harmony with the mentality and the culture of a certain group of people, of a certain religion,” he said.

“Then I think artists and those who put on such exhibits should be very, very sensitive to that.”

For viewers who are neither steadfastly Catholic nor connoisseurs of art, the mishmash of elements in Cruz’s piece is indecipherable at worst and thought-provoking at best.

“We are a little surprised by this artwork, it left us very perplexed,” said Francoise Masson, a tourist from Paris.


Jinggoy Estrada still wants CCP officials to resign

By Kim Tan



Even after hearing their explanation on the controversial art exhibit, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday insisted that officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) should still resign for allowing the artwork “Poleteismo” to be displayed in its premises.

“As a Catholic I feel offended. I still stand by my call for those people responsible for showing the exhibit at the CCP (to resign),” Estrada said during Tuesday’s hearing on the controversial exhibit “Kulo” in the CCP.

He made the statement even after the CCP officials explained that many of them had wanted to take down the exhibit when they saw it.

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

No intention to resign

CCP chairperson Emily Abrera, however, said she does not wish to resign because she wants to oversee the continuing policy changes in the CCP.

“When I said no I meant it in all modesty. I would like to assure the public and all
those concerned that the policies are undergoing review,” she said during the hearing.

Senate Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate education committee, agreed with Abrera that they are in need of policy changes and not administrative changes.

He likewise said they will no longer continue their inquiry into the issue because there is already a case regarding the matter pending before the local courts.

He added that this means they will no longer subpoena Cruz because there will no longer be another hearing.

“I’m personally satisfied that they brought out to the open. I think we have already gathered enough insights. We will submit our conclusion,” he said. – GMA News

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


tutoK Statement regarding the issues surrounding “Kulo”



TutoK would like to manifest its stand on the issues surrounding the “Kulo” exhibit and Mideo Cruz’ “Poleteismo” in particular:

We enjoin everyone to view artworks on the basis of its over-all message and not focus on specific elements of the work.

We are one with any person, artist or not, whose rights are curtailed and voices suppressed.

We condemn the cowardly act of those who vandalized the works.

We encourage artists and curators to continue coming up with projects that bring to fore the value of discourse and critical thinking.

We prevail upon the Cultural Center of the Philippines, its officers, and its board of trustees to take a firm stand and NOT kowtow to the fascistic dictates of the religious establishments and the organizations affiliated with them.

We uphold Article 3 section 4 of the Philippine constitution which states that:

 “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

We call for a unified front from all artists, cultural workers and educators in protecting our basic rights.  Despite ruffled feathers and sensibilities, the liberty to express oneself must always prevail.

TutoK would like to remind everyone that we live in a democratic country.  Moreover, we believe that history and culture must be absorbed and reflected on with the all its shortcomings, frailties and repulsive experiences; and art allows us these ways of seeing.


August 11, 2011

Si Cruz sa Krus



Kung gayon,

Ipako natin ngayon

Ang isang Mideo

Cruz sa krus

Ng ating kuskos-balungos

Habang binibihisan ng adorno

At burloloy ang mga santo

At Santo Niñong manika

O manikin kung ituring

Ay higit pa sa gamit na sasagipin

Una pa sa mga kahinlog

Kapag may sunog;

O dili kaya’y parang agimat

Na magliligtas sa malas

At pagpapabaya dahil may simbahang

Magliligtas, kaya nabulag

Ang sensibilidad at abilidad,

Kayat naghihirap; kayat nagugutom

Ngunit patuloy na nag-aambag

Ng dasal at piso para sa mga obispo

Na higit na kawawa dahil nawala

Ang abuloy ng PCSO.


Ipako sa krus si Mideo

At sino mang hindi sumasamba

Sa estatuwa o rebulto

Na yari sa garing, o semento

O kahoy. Alahoy, alahoy;

Hindi nagmamalinis

Gaya ng pagpahid ng panuelo

O paghalik at pagtanggap ng mikrobyo

Sa naunang lumaway sa santo

Na magbibigay ng mirakulo

Sa napurnadang buhay

Dahil  ipinagkatiwala, isinugal

Sa gobyerno at tadhana

Ayayay ayayay.


Walang kara si Cruz;

Di tulad ng kriminal at nangungurakot

Na ginawa pang saksi ang Diyos

Sa kanilang pagpapalusot.

Kayat halina, kata nang ipako

Sa krus si Cruz

Upang sa landas na nagkukurus

Ay maging matuwid

Patungo sa ating pagkabulid.

Artists group decries closure of ‘Kulo’ exhibit


The same day the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) closed down the main gallery where the controversial “Kulo” art exhibit was on display, an artists group on Tuesday condemned the decision, urging artists and members of the press to fight against censorship and attacks on freedom of expression.

“To allow the exhibit’s closure based on [the opinion of bishops and religious lay leaders] would set the precedent for all other exhibitions that would follow,” said the Palayain ang Sining through a Facebook note posted 4:22 p.m. Tuesday by artist Mideo Cruz, adding that the issue surrounding the exhibit and Cruz’ piece “has gotten out of hand.”

Cruz’ piece “Poleteismo,” which is part of the “Kulo” art exhibit, has been called “blasphemous” by critics and was vandalized last week.

The CCP said that they decided to shut down the gallery because of threats to persons and property. “This decision was made amidst controversy and deliberation by the Board as to what steps are necessary to avoid future similar incidents,” the CCP added.

In the manifesto, the artists’ group urged the public not to be “sidetracked” by the uproar over Cruz’s art work. Instead, they said, the bigger issue of censorship and repression should be addressed.

“Palayain ang Sining does not merely support Mideo Cruz. We support the fight against censorship, and against attacks on our basic right to freedom of expression.

“The bishops and religious lay leaders pushing for the closure of the exhibit are demanding not only that we persecute one person’s creative expression, but that we hinder any other creative expressions whose concept and presented ideologies they do not agree with,” the group said.

Criminal charges

Despite the shut-down, a conservative Catholic group said that they still intend to file criminal charges against the CCP and Cruz because “the Christian nation has been offended.”

To this, the artists group argued that “threats of filing legal charges have been made against the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and has cited Art. 201 of the Revised Penal Code. Yet this law in itself is contrary to Article 3 Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution.”

The said provision in the Constitution states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code meanwhile penalizes “those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals… those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs or any other place, exhibit, indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts or shows,
whether live or in film, which are prescribed by virtue hereof, shall include those which… offend any race or religion; …are contrary to law, public order, morals, and good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts.”

Meanwhile, three senators have called on officials of the CCP to resign for allowing “Tuko” to be put on display, alleging that the exhibit offended Roman Catholics.

“Palayain ang Sining is direct in what it stands for: the fight for freedom in our creative expression; the fight against censorship and repression,” according to the group’s statement. — With Bea Cupin/VS/HS, GMA News