I got introduced to Mideo Cruz by a friend through Facebook. While Eric and I were having appointments with various art gallery curators and established artists in the Philippines, I figured it might also be a good idea to get in contact with this artist. A few days before our studio visit, I got in touch and met up with some political artists from UGATLAHI, a group from the University of the Philippines. Interestingly enough, I found out that Mideo Cruz was one the group's main founders.
Mideo Cruz and his wife, Raquel de Loyola (who is also a live installation artist) welcomed us into their home and studio, where he showed us a slideshow presentation of his local and international exhibits. The extent and range of his art career is pretty mind-blowing. Although he is more known for his live installation performances, his portfolio ranges from live performances, collection of paintings, conceptual installation art and various combination of other art forms.
What I found consistent in his works, regardless of the form, are his intense and blunt opinions mixed with a tinge of humour. They're satirical, social, political, personal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, emotional and religious commentaries that seems to want to question everything we consider as the foundation for almost everything that we know of the world and our place in it.
Mideo's works are always questioning the mainstream idea, questioning everyone and questioning the viewer; it mocks, shocks, forces the emotion and reaction out of the viewer before the viewer can even compose an explanation for it. I sometimes feel like there's something missing with composed explanations because it's not as open to questioning as when it is raw. Preconceived notions and biases block new ideas from flourishing and creates a defensive facade.
While we were at his studio, we talked about the role of an artist and the artist's relationship with the audience. He said that there are times when there will be a disconnect between the artist and the audience, especially if the audience is not ready to absorb it yet. It's a disconnect that can most likely be solved through immersion. He encouraged us to absorb as much as we can of the Philippines and the world. Explore, immerse and question.