THEOLOGY professors have condemned an art installation by a UST alumnus on exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, calling it “blasphemous and sacrilegious.”

The work in question, titled “Poleteismo,” is by College of Fine Arts and Design alumnus Mideo Cruz, part of the “all-Thomasian” exhibit called “Kulo.”

Cruz’s Poleteismo plays on Catholic icons and sacramentals, placed side by side or interspersed with pop culture imagery and erotica, supposedly to show the “transformation of deity.”

The installation includes a calendar with the image of Jesus Christ, on which a sculpture of the male genitalia is attached to the face. Another picture of Jesus Christ is placed beside that of Britney Spears showing her cleavage. There’s also a painting of Jesus Christ containing a cuss word, a cross with a condom hanging around it, and broken rosaries.

In a poster of the Last Supper, Christ is blackened out and a picture of Disney character Mickey Mouse is glued on his face. An image of Christ the King also has Mickey Mouse’s face.

“We (Theology professors) strongly denounce the work [of Mideo Cruz] as spiritually outrageous and demeaning, blasphemous and sacrilegious, offensive, educationally confusing, misleading, and even scandalous, particularly to the Catholic faithful and the Thomasian community,” said Allan Basas, secretary of the Institute of Religion.

In a chance interview, the Rector said there are limits to artistic expression, lamenting the fact that Cruz got a Catholic education from UST.

Whether inside or outside the University, Thomasians should “behave according to the Catholic values imbibed [as] students, and one of these values is the sense of decency,” said Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P.

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“Artistic expression, of course, [is something] we cannot legislate [because it is] against the right of artists to express themselves in the way they like [it]. But there are limits to artistic expression especially if such expression already scandalizes people,” De la Rosa said.

In an email to the Varsitarian, Cruz claimed the images he had created could only be explained beyond words, adding that he didn’t want to interfere with how the artwork would open the sensibilities of the audience.

Everything can be blasphemous if you stay on the surface and close your mind for further imagination. But remember that the piece is inside an academic space and arena for rational discourse and critical understanding,” Cruz said.

The images, he claimed, were mere representations of “things which we see in ourselves and how we are creating our idols in relation to how our idol is creating us.”

“The uproar it created might be the unconscious denial of seeing ourselves truthfully in the mirror,” he said. “The realities in our society is the real blasphemy of our own image; the blasphemy of our sacred self.”

Jaime Jesus Pacena, curator of the exhibit, said he believed Poleteismo was an important piece and should be viewed by many.

Cruz said most of his works included in the CCP exhibit, together with a giant Mickey Mouse called “Angel Dela Gwardya,” were already exhibited inside a seminary for more than a month.

“Kulo” was put together by Thomasian artists to mark the 400th year celebration of UST and the 150th birth anniversary of Jose Rizal.

UST has distanced itself from the exhibit, however.

“Poleteismo” had been shown in several exhibitions at different variations and elements: “Nexus” at the Ateneo de Manila University (2007), “Santong Pinagpasasaan” at the Kulay-Diwa Art Galleries (2005), and “Hardware 1” at the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum (2002). It was also included in the 2007 music video “Anghel sa Lupa.”

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Kulo was participated in by 32 Thomasian artists who contributed works on canvas, multimedia installations, and graphic art.

The exhibit opened last July 17 and runs up to August 21. Bernadette D. Nicolas with reports from Reden D. Madrid


  1. I do not condone the way that Mideo Cruz used the image of Jesus Christ in his work. But then again, I also cannot deny that the message he’s trying to impart is none the less true. Ang hirap kasi, masyadong maraming hipokrito sa mundong ‘to. Naglipana na naman ang mga modern day Pharisees. Tsk tsk.

  2. Pero bakit, for instance, pagdating kay Lady Gaga, kahit anong gawin niya, kahit lantarang pambabastos kay Kristo eh OKAY LANG, LALO NA SA MGA KABATAAN? Bakit kaya? Food for thought lang.


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