Curator deplores closure of 'blasphemous' art show

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Aug 10 2011 10:18 AM | Updated as of Aug 10 2011 09:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The curator and one of the participants of the "Kulo" exhibit deemed blasphemous by Catholic groups is upset that the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Board of Directors closed down the exhibit.

In a statement, multimedia art director and educator J. Pacena III said the closure of the art exhibit sets a bad precedent and exploits the civil liberties of artists.

"As the curator of the exhibit, a student of art, an art educator and a practicing multimedia artist, I deplore this repression...Our right to freely express ourselves were curtailed. I am shocked and appalled by how our civil liberties were exploited to satiate the sensibilities of a raucous mob. In effect, majority of the participants’ ideas and artistic expressions were neglected and compromised by this decision," Pacena said.

The art director said the focus of the exhibit should be "on the dialogue of art and nothing more." He said the art pieces had accompanying statements, which served as jump-off points for further dialogue.

Pacena said that despite the controversy over Mideo Cruz's work, the CCP should protect the rights of all the participants in the "Kulo" exhibition and not censor the artwork.

"I am respectful of artists and the artworks they produce. I also believe that as artists, we should assume responsibility for the works we create and the ideas we communicate. This allows a process of engagement where the artist and his audience could learn from each other," he said.

The CCP closed down the controversial art show Tuesday amid threats to artist Mideo Cruz and CCP Board Members. Several of Cruz's controversial art pieces include a picture of Jesus Christ with a wooden penis glued to his face and a Christ the King figure with rabbit ears.

Last week, a couple vandalized several of the art pieces and tried to burn down the exhibit.

The CCP said it decided to close the exhibit after hate mail and threats to CCP Board members intensified.