I am enjoying (in an educational sense) the ongoing debate on Mideo Cruz’s exhibit at the CCP particular among those who have been able to articulate their outrage over his works other than, “it offends me.”
In his notes, Cruz says he inveighs against “polytheisms” such as Christianity commodified and today’s prevalent neoliberalism. But his images of Christianity are all drawn from Catholic popular iconography and he commits the same misconception about Catholic images—that their veneration is a form of idol-worship rejected by Old-Testament monotheism.
True, a misconception rejected by a burning bush up at Mt. Sinai, but is it still a misconception given the Filipino context? Filipino Catholicism is imbibed with animistic traditions. Why are shrines built over crying statues of the Virgin Mary? Why do people die trying to touch or get near the statue of the Nazareno during its feast day? Why must we have a bottle of these statues’ tears? Why must we wipe our handkerchief on the Nazareno? That people place their faith in these objects means they have defied the first commandment.
At the least, it could be said that Cruz has a stunted view of Catholicism: He doesn’t seem to have matured beyond the childhood horror of icons of the Blessed Mother and her seven dagger-dolors and of the bloodied image of the Santo Entierro brought out on Good Friday.
Is it Cruz’s view that is stunted or Filipino Catholics’? (See above.) Who hasn’t matured beyond Good Friday threats of childhood? My lola, until her death, certainly did not.
The older generation can be very unyielding in their ways and views—so who’s view is stunted?
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I do wonder: if the penis on Mideo Cruz’s art wasn’t erect and as prominent, would it have been deemed as offensive? Was the hard-on in itself part of the commentary? Was it a rationalization for the Church’s turgid ego? Tinitigasan ba ang simbahang Katoliko? Sa kapangyarihan nito? Sa kanyang mismong pagkalalaki? (Oh Tagalog, and your layers of meaning!)
Unfortunately, Mideo’s statement, that he used whatever was lying around the house (from his explanation of his art, eight paragraph), does put into question the editorial weight of the penis. Did he simply have a dildo lying around in his house?
Disclaimer: a) I haven’t personally seen the exhibit; and b) my reaction is based on the crucifixion installment alone, which I’ve seen enough photos of.