16 August 2011

The work of art in the CCP

Pilipina Ako believes there was a reason why Mideo Cruz chose to exhibit “Kulo” in the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Cruz had considered that the Philippines is the third largest nation in the world believing in Catholicism, as well as the only other country in Asia aside from East Timor that is predominantly Catholic. That’s why he featured his work in the CCP, ‘the premiere institution for culture and the arts, embodying the highest standards of excellence and the service responsive to the Filipino and the world.’

From this description, the Filipino contemporary artist is in the right place. Cruz had only intended his installation to be ‘about the worship of relics and how idolatry evolves through history and modern culture,’ which was first seen in 2002 at the Loyola School of Theology in Ateneo de Manila University, then in the UP Vargas Museum, Kulay Diwa in Paranaque, and in a music video of Stonefree, a Filipino four-man band.

“I never go out of my way to offend; but I do like to provoke debates and critical thinking. Art is a way of expressing one’s views about the world, culture and history, and this is what I do in my work. The audience is free to make their own conclusions and interpretations about the images I create,” he had said.

Poleteismo, a part of Cruz’s exhibit, loosely translates into ‘many beliefs’ or ‘many deities.’ “Throughout history, humanity has grown to create new gods and these are not always religious figures but concepts and objects. Some have taken to worshipping money; some see politicians as godsend. People create idols and these idols whether or not they’re deserving of idolatry or worship affect our lives and how we function and see the world.”

Cruz ascribed the phallus as a symbol for patriarchy and power. “There are those who worship power, who put their faith in men who wield power even if the power is used against women, or against the whole of society. The fight for sexual and gender equality continues, doesn’t it? But the balance continues to be tipped in favor of the phallus. Is this good or bad? You decide.”

“Everything around us can be considered as symbols, some are actually only symbols more than anything else. How we understand these symbols, how we use them is what gives them power and meaning.”

“This is how I see the Filipino way of life—colorful, varied, full of conflicting beliefs and values. Can’t you just see these same images pasted on the walls of houses in the urban poor communities? And Filipino society, its racked with economic and political turmoil, and then there’s religion which frequently involves itself in the entire conglomeration of issues and developments.”

A former student of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Cruz had exhibited in Switzerland, Italy and in the United States. He had been recognized in the Ateneo Art Awards, too, in 2007, as well as in the institution spewing him now in 2003.


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