Filipinos cry sacrilege over art with Christ, phallic symbols

Tue Aug 2, 2011 4:20am EDT
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By Michaela Cabrera

MANILA (Reuters Life!) - 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.

"May your soul burn to (sic) hell, you Devil pro (sic) artist," wrote a furious Facebook user, one of dozens denouncing Cruz's work.

Cruz, a 37-year-old visual and performance artist who has exhibited in such international art centers as New York, Paris and Tokyo, said he had wanted to provoke a reaction but was surprised by the violence of the response.

"You can't force people. But I just hope that when we look at something, the process doesn't stop at the surface," he said.

Cruz said his installation, "Poleteismo" or "Polytheism," is about the worship of relics and how idolatry evolves through history and modern culture.

Posters of Christ and the Virgin Mary, crucifixes and religious curios recall the 300 years of Spanish rule that implanted Catholicism in the Philippines, while images of Mickey Mouse, the Statue of Liberty and U.S. President Barack Obama point to the lasting influence of U.S. imperialism.

"This speaks about objects that we worship, how we create these gods and idols, and how we in turn are created by our gods and idols," Cruz said.   Continued...