The closure of “Kulô,” an exhibit in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), is “clearly a breach of freedom of expression,” said campus journalists, describing the closure as a form of censorship.
The exhibit, which featured works of 32 artists from the University of Sto. Tomas, was closed down just recently after the artists received death threats, insults and hate messages. The exhibit also sparked a heated debate in the community, as one of the CCP board members resigned due to “pressure” to take down the exhibit.
“While freedom of expression is not absolute and should be guided by a pro-people initiative and accountability, the exhibit should not be closed down or censored on the basis of being ‘offensive,’” said Pauline Gidget Estella, national deputy secretary general of College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the widest and longest-running alliance of student publications in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Whatever the artist’s intention was, the exhibit should have provided a venue for debate and meaningful discussion, which the audience never had the chance to engage in because of the closure of the exhibit,” Estella said.
The issue has been reduced to the myopic view of “a clash between the pious and the heretics,” said Estella, adding that figures such as President Benigno Aquino III and Imelda Marcos have only aggrandized the issue with populist, skin-deep statements.
“The capacity to analyze the true meaning of an artwork goes beyond pointless, hypocritical conservatism,” said Estella. One could argue that in the exhibit, images of Christ with a phallus for a nose or with Mickey Mouse ears could be a representation of how faith has been commodified and used by the powerful as a means to rake in profits, she explained.
“This kind of conservatism unthinkingly condemns a masterpiece without taking into account the context and intentions of the artist, and consequently represses even the most revolutionary of ideas,” Estella said.
(Photo taken from “Shock for shock’s sake,” Philippine Daily Inquirer. http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/8837/shock-for-shock%E2%80%99s-sake)
Pauline Gidget Estella
National Deputy Secretary General