CCP closes gallery with controversial artwork

Thea Alberto-Masakayan

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has decided to temporarily shut down the gallery that houses artist Mideo Cruz's controversial artworks.

Cruz's art installation "Politeismo" depicted a version of Jesus Christ as a mouse and also showed other religious objects juxtaposed with a red penis or other odd objects, which critics described as "blasphemous" and "sacrilegious."

While CCP said it will "continue to act as catalyst for free expression of Filipino artists," it said they are now taking steps to "make more informed decisions in the future."

"This decision was made amidst controversy and deliberation by the Board as to what steps are necessary to avoid future similar incidents," the CCP said in a statement Tuesday.

CCP said the exhibit did not only draw flak; it also exposed the institution to security threats.

"Threats  to security became most alarming on Aug. 4 when Security reported that a couple had vandalized the art works and attempted to set fire to the exhibit but had been unsuccessful," he CCP said.

Members of the CCP Board also started to receive hate mails and threats.

The exhibit 'Kulo' is a compilation of work by 32 artists and was hinged on Jose Rizal's 150th year.

"Because all the participating artists had a common educational background, all having studied at the  UST, they felt it fitting that the theme of Jose Rizal also reflect the heritage and culture represented by the 400-year old university," CCP said in its backgrounder.

CCP said "Politeismo" was not new as it had been featured in exhibits in Ateneo de Manila, UP Vargas Musueum and Kulay Diwa since 2002.

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A statue of Jesus Christ with Mickey Mouse ears and a clown nose is seen among the art installations exhibited at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila August 8, 2011. An art installation that mixes Christ with kitschy symbols of pop culture and includes a crucifix with a movable penis has set off an uproar in the Philippines among conservative Catholics, who say the installations are a mockery of their faith. Mideo Cruz, the artist responsible for the installation -- intended to be a commentary on icon worship -- has been branded a "demon" and bombarded with death threats and hate mail since his work featured in an exhibit in Manila that began June 17. REUTERS/Erik de Castro (PHILIPPINES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY RELIGION)