Is Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo exhibit art? Thoughts on polytheism, iconography, and Lord of the Rings

Here is a description of the Poleteismo exhibit:

When they find it in one of the alcoves of the Main Gallery, they will see multicolored plastic piggy banks stuffed inside a case usually reserved for religious statues; and Christ the King with a bright red clown nose, his right hand replaced by a Mickey Mouse glove, and his head crowned with Mickey Mouse ears made from a Coke can.

Hanging behind a divider is a cross with a bright red penis thrusting out from the vertical bar. And on the walls, a multimedia collage composed of a confusion of images and objects: there are ads, political paraphernalia from Fernando Poe Junior, Gilbert Teodoro, and Barack Obama; there are religious posters of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and the Holy Family; there are handouts, pamphlets, and stickers; there are rosaries, penis ashtrays, crucifixes, condoms, and Christmas lights; there’s a lot of stuff.

Polytheism is the worship of many gods.  Even though there are many gods, ancient men has portrayed them always as separate entities.  The depictions of the God’s of Egypt are many, using different man-animal combinations, but you know who is who.   Egyptian art is governed by rules. Ra is depicted with head of falcon and sun disk. Sekhmet is a woman with a lion’s head.  So if you depict Ra with a lion’s head, the rule is broken and it ceases to be art according to Egyptian hieroglyphic rules.

Christian iconography, though not the same as Egyptian art, is also based on rules.  Most of these rules are given based on the Bible.  For the case of the icon of the Sacred Heart, the image is based on the Last Judgment and the promise of Angel Gabriel to Mary:

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32o He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Lk 1:31-33)

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. (Mt 25:31-32)

This is why you see Christ depicted with a crown and sceptre, because they stand for kingship.  The beating heart aflame and pierced is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible:

“Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us? (Road to Emmaus, Lk 24:32)

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, 34*s but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out (Jn 19:33-34)

My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. 9I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; For I am God and not a man,g the Holy One present among you; I will not come in wrath. (Hos 11:8-9)

Now, is Poleteismo exhibit of Mideo Cruz based on rules?  Like many modern art, Poleteismo is not based on rules.    Modern poems have freed themselves from the strictures of rhyming and meter resulting to free verses.  Modern paintings in the tradition of Picasso are also not based on rules but on an endless search for the Platonic form stripped of the accidentals–the rules of perspective and the physics of light.  Like a disembodied spirit, you see nothing in modern art but a mirage, an illusion formed in your mind of what could have been–full of potential but achieving nothing.

Classical art, in contrast, do not begin with the Platonic form but with reality, and uses the limitations of reality to convey the Platonic form.  Anguish is an abstraction, but you know it when you see the face of Christ in pain.  Sacrifice is an abstraction, but you know it when you see Christ crucified on the cross.  Modern art fails because it falsely assumes that man is not an embodied spirit whose knowledge of reality is conveyed by the senses.

This leads us to the question: is modern art true art?  As long as it has precise rules for interpreting, then it is art; if not, it is just a plain drawing.  With this definition, I would call Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese characters, and Aztec picture writing as true abstract arts.  But modern art of Picasso and Mideo Cruz I shall not call true abstract art.

But there is something else in Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo: mockery of what is.  In Lord of the Rings, this is a mark of the things bred by evil, for Evil cannot create but can only mock.  As Frodo said to Sam concerning Orcs:

No, they eat and drink, Sam.  The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.  I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures.  Foul waters and foul meats they’ll take, if they can get no better, but not poison.   (Return of the King p. 201)

The orcs were made in the mockery of elves and men.

So when Mideo Cruz mock not men but the image of Christ, the Son of God, by giving Christ Mickey mouse ears and nose, there is something evil afoot.  Black Masses in Satan worship turn the crucifix upside down, turning salvation inside out, making man as gods, and glorifying all the sins against the Ten Commandments.  The first three commandments has been easily disposed.  The fourth is by rebellion to figures of authority, not only parents, but also the government, the church, and rules of good art.   The fifth is by killing the reputation of a good man–the Man-God Christ–and all those who followed Christianity for more than 2000 years.  The sixth and the ninth are by the promotion of the reproductive health bill and its ills–fornication and adultery–by sticking out the condom in the cross.  The eighth is by using freedom of speech to speak falsehood.  And the seventh and 10th by coveting and forcibly taking the authority of the Catholic Church to declare what is morally good and evil.

Mockery of God is a devilish craft, and Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo has the mark of the devil’s claw.

Loyola House of Studies denies showing controversial works of Mideo Cruz at 2007 Tutok Nexus Exhibit

The statement by Fr. Jose Mario Francisco, S.J. regarding the CCP exhibit:

We categorically deny reports that the controversial works of Mideo Cruz at
CCP were part of the 2007 Tutok Nexus exhibit at Loyola School of Theology,
Ateneo de Manila.
Jose Mario C. Francicso, SJ

Loyola School of Theology
Ateneo de Manila University

Jane Stangle of the Holy Mary of Good Success Latin Chorale

Good pm Dr. Sugon, Mr. Rameses,

Congratulations on your new TLM group which I heard about. I immediately opened your blogspot which came to my attention.

I am not a student, but being a former Protestant instantaneously converted by Mary, I seek the Latin Mass and was instrumental in moving it forward in some ways.

With two seminarians, I assisted in establishing TLM in Bacoor, Cavite doing liaison for its approval by Bishop Tagle. TLM continued there for a year only.

Having formed many choirs in Las Pinas, In December 2009, I formed an all-female Latin Chorale and we have been practicing once a week for a year now. However, I have not taught them responses, which is why we do not service any Latin Mass as yet. But should I do so, it will be the Missa de Angelis.

I have been spreading devotion to Holy Mary of Good Success of Quito, Ecuador since 2004 till today, the Patroness of Catholic Tradition, which includes the saying of the Latin Rosary with sung Litany. Thus, the name of our female Latin Choir is the HOLY MARY OF GOOD SUCCESS LATIN CHORALE. We are seven regular members that can stretch to ten, three being irregular. Our choir is an Apostolate, our aim being to spread the Latin Rosary, Latin Liturgical Music and the devotion to Holy Mary of Good Success.. I have been in touch with your Jesuit recording in the hope of someday getting our music recorded.

Together with the seminarian who introduced us to Holy Mary of Good Success, we were able to celebrate the Feast Day of Holy Mary of Good Success in February, 2005 in Malacanang Palace with TLM attended by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. We were able to ‘borrow’ a priest who knew Latin Mass who flew in from Butuan, Fr. Josilo Amallah, and received permission to say the Mass from the priest who baptized me, Msgr. Josefino Ramirez of Quiapo Church (who by the way sponsored TLM in Binondo Church early on, which I used to attend way back).

Should there be an organist to accompany us in the future (since I join the choir singing the tenor part), we would be happy to sing at some special Mass as a guest choir free of charge so long as we are informed well in advance so we can prepare our repertoire. We can rehearse with the organist a few hours before the Mass.

My speciality is voice. I took a masteral in voice workshop under Madame Raquel Adonaylo at the CCP. Adonaylo is faculty at the Curtis School of Music and trainor of the Boston Opera. I took some informal lessons on the reading and interpretation of chant, enough to teach the choir.

Music is only an avocation. I am a journalist (editor level) and coffeetable book author.
In 2009, I was more into music and semi-retired from my writing. I am currently producing a musical idiom for the Musika Filipina Foundation, a project of former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor.

Again, congratulations. Thanks be to God that Catholic Tradition moves forward more and more.

Jane Stangle