Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Far Can an Artist Go in a Religious Country?

The recent controversy in Manila over local artist Mideo Cruz’s Kulo exhibition raises the question of how far an artist can go in terms of religious art in a religious country—in this case, the Philippines, which is more than 80% Roman Catholic. Kulo, which means “boil,” set Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila’s blood boiling. Rosales denounced the show as “blasphemous.” President Benigno Aquino used the power of the government to shut the exhibition down, thus drawing complaints from artists’ groups over freedom of speech. Freedom of speech issues are always thorny, but when an artist’s work pricks community sensibilities so deeply for little visible gain, at least so far, it makes one wonder if it is possible that an artist can go too far when it comes to religious art in a religious country. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Far Can an Artist Go in a Religious Country?"

1 comment:

Hels said...

Thorny issue because what offends one person is art to another.

Australia is NOT a particularly religious country yet we had the same uproar. The 1987 photograph Piss Christ by Andres Serrano showed a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. The image may have looked beautiful but people were outraged - court cases, physical attacks, death threats. It was hastily withdrawn.

My solution? Do not put art that will _certainly_ offend religious sensibilities in a public space eg the National Art Gallery. Put it in a more secluded space, and warn everyone IN BIG LETTERS not to enter if they are discomforted by such material.