Mideo Cruz, ex-CCP director seek suit’s dismissal
The artist behind a controversial art installation and an official of the institution that presented it on Thursday asked the Ombudsman to dismiss the criminal charges filed against them by religious groups offended by the artwork.
In separate filings with the Office of the Ombudsman, artist Mideo Cruz and former Cultural Center of the Philippines director Karen Flores maintained that the exhibit “Kulo” was not meant to be offensive but was a valid art exercise.
Flores, who resigned last month as CCP’s visual director after the controversy erupted, said the works in the exhibit, including Cruz’s, were not immoral or obscene as claimed by some Catholic groups.
“It was an art exhibition in the country’s premier venue for art exhibitions, not only of one artwork but of the artworks of 32 artists of varying styles and perspectives who happened to have all studied at UST, which is marking its 400th year as an academic institution—a Roman Catholic institution at that,” said Flores in her affidavit.
Pro Life Philippines, led by Manuel Dayrit and Eric Manalang, and other Catholic lay groups had filed criminal charges against Flores, Cruz and the CCP board for allowing Cruz’s work, “Poleteismo,” in the exhibit.
Poleteismo depicted mundane objects such as condoms and a penis juxtaposed on images of Jesus Christ, among other images. The entire exhibit was shut down after a hue and cry was raised by conservative quarters.
Manalang said they charged the artists and the CCP with violating Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, which refers to offenses against decency and customs.
Cruz, for his part, said his installation was meant to be a comment on Philippine society. He pointed out the art piece had been exhibited elsewhere, including the Jesuit-run Loyola School, and that it was aimed at furthering discourse on art, society and Philippine politics.
He said he and the exhibit curators recognized that his piece might not be for everyone, thus, it was installed at the far end of the hall and sported advisories that it contained adult material.
Both Cruz and Flores stressed it was protected by the constitutional right of free expression.
Cruz cited a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Iglesia Ni Cristo religious sect whose TV show had been given an X-rating by the censors board for attacking the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Then Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who penned the decision, said government censors were wrong when they tried to squelch the INC, adding that “it is not the task of the State to favor any religion by protecting it against an attack by another religion.” Kristine L. Alave
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