CCP defends ‘Kulo’ exhibit, welcomes suit
The artistic director and vice president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Chris Millado, on Friday said the filing of charges was a welcome development and expressed hope that the court would defend the freedom of expression.
At a press conference at the CCP, Millado defended the institution’s decision to display the controversial art work of Mideo Cruz, entitled “Poleteismo,” which offended Catholic and Christian religious groups.
He called the outrage of the powerful Catholic Church as “bullying” and said the CCP was standing by its decision to approve the “Kulo” exhibit.
Millado also rejected criticism from artists that the board members were spineless and failed to uphold artistic freedom in the face of pressure from the religious groups. He said the exhibit was discontinued “due to threats to property and life” and not due to the unfavorable comments.
Millado said Cruz’s piece, which featured religious icons decorated with phallic symbols, was “trying to engage the public in the fight against idolatry and corruption.”
Millado likewise rejected calls for the board to resign, saying there was no basis for the CCP leadership to go.
“If the board is at fault, we can be faulted for defending the right to artistic freedom,” he said, adding that former Visual Arts Department head Karen Flores resigned on her own volition.
Despite the CCP’s decision to prematurely end the exhibit’s run, Millado said they would continue “to nurture artists, to nurture their works and to nurture this space called artistic freedom.”
“We understand the disappointment and frustration of our artists when they learned about the closure of the main gallery. To them: please believe us when we say we will remain committed to the cause of artistic freedom,” Millado said.
Millado criticized media for focusing entirely on Cruz’s work “in such a way that people confused it with the entire exhibit.”
According to him, Cruz’s artwork was only one piece in an exhibit with works by 32 artists.
“We felt the media was able to take the frame of those who were offended by it…but were somehow hard-pressed in terms of taking the frame of the artist,” Millado said.
“The issue goes beyond the arts, and the media should join in defending such freedom,” he said.
If there was anything positive that came out of the controversy, Millado said it was the fact that it has “proven how powerful art is.”
“We should take a second look, if not give it importance in our lives and make it a point of reflection, engagement, understanding and if not even a place for participation,” he said.
“Even among us in the art world, many were offended when we first viewed the artwork,” he said.
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