CCP official quits over 'blasphemous' exhibit

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2011 06:10 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2011 01:21 AM

CCP Visual Arts Department Head Karen Flores. Photo by Rem Zamora for abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The head of the visual arts department of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) resigned on Wednesday, a day after the center closed down an exhibit featuring defaced religious icons.

Karen Flores announced her resignation during a forum sponsored by the University of the Philippines Art Studies Department on Wednesday.

"Yes," said CCP president Raul Sunico in an interview with radio dzMM, when asked if he has approved Flores' resignation.

"Ms. Flores resigned for her own reasons. We did not ask her [to resign]."

CCP officials have come under fire after exhibiting some of Mideo Cruz's art pieces, particularly a crucifix with a wooden penis and a Christ the King figurine with rabbit ears.

A number of senators, including Juan Ponce Enrile, Tito Sotto and Jinggoy Estrada, as well as several groups, have asked CCP officials to leave their posts because of the incident.

Sunico, however, said that "it is not up to me to resign."

The CCP is under the Office of the President.

"Wala naman akong nalalaman na kasalanan ko dito, bakit ako magre-resign? Pero 'pag natanggal ako, that's another case," he said.

"But I'm not saying that none of us is at fault in this matter...There must be a reason for resigning."

More censorship?

Asked if they will censor artworks in their future exhibits to prevent incidents like this, Sunico said, "Censorship is a very sensitive word...We are not insensitive to public sentiment. At the same time, let us not be insensitive to artists' sentiment."

He added that CCP will always value artistic freedom. "We can't try to eliminate them. We want to give everybody a chance."

National Artist for Literature Bien Lumbera on Tuesday said he is disappointed that the CCP "gave in to the pressure exerted on them by certain groups," making the center "open to every little whim by a certain sector in Philippine society.

Lumbera, leader of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, stressed that an artist "should be allowed the freedom to create what he thinks is art."