Form is Ideological
by Mykel Andrada
Let’s oppose censorship! Let the masses/audience view Mideo’s work and let them decide if the said art is acceptable or not.
I believe we are not here to defend Mideo and his art. Rather, we’re here to battle censorship. It is one thing to oppose censorship. And it’s another thing to offer a constructive criticism of Mideo’s work. Whether his work really subverts the hegemonic rule of establishments or not, the fact remains that we should oppose censorship, and let the masses/audience have their say about Mideo’s art. If it’s any indication, it is not only the Church, or the fundamentalists, or the government that criticizes “politeismo.” Even activists and non-Christians have critical views about it. But it should not be any reason to dictate closure of the exhibit.
Mideo, or any artist for that matter, should realize that there is what is called a “mass line.” Audience reception is essential. If the audience finds a work offensive, then maybe there’s a grain of knowledge that we have to consider there. If the audience does not react positively to a work, then maybe there’s a problem with the synthesis of content and form.
We do not alienate the public. We do not hastily generalize and conclude that those who find the exhibit offensive are incompetent of art appreciation, or that they are merely ignoramuses or shitheads. We can say that they are driven by their own political and ideological agenda. Which, of course, should be welcomed, given that these are sites or locuses for struggle. Especially that to struggle — to let viewpoints clash — is to promote the science of constructive criticism.
When we create art, it is because we want to be united with our public. If an art form does not effectively convey the message that an artist wants to purport, then maybe there’s something wrong or lacking with the form used. We do not create art and hold exhibits to alienate the public. If a work does not unite the specific and general public, then, logically, it divorces the audience from the artist. After all, “form is ideological.” For example, we use songs, other oral art forms and visual arts, rather than printed texts, when our target audience is a largely non-reading community.
If indeed we want to symbolically counter patriarchy — or any hegemonic rule for that matter — why put a penis on a rather peasant/working class depiction of Christ? If a calendar depiction of Christ the King — that which symbolizes Spanish colonialism and monarchy — had been used, for example, the message would have been slightly different, but still subject to audience interpretation. Why penis? Why not let Christ hold a hammer or a sickle in place of a scepter? And why Christ in the first place? Why not Gloria or Noynoy or any other bureaucrat capitalist or feudal lord?
We do not gain anything out of alienating our audience. We do not divorce ourselves and our art from the public. We do not promote absolute freedom of expression. That’s anarchism! What we do promote is responsive and responsible freedom of expression. These things hold true even in protest and revolutionary art.
No to censorship! And no to anarchism!