an investigative photo documentary

Exclusive 22-page photo essay from our investigative journalist team in collaboration with award-winning photojournalist Xyza Cruz Bacani. Location: Gapan City, Philippines Copyright Wondereur 2018.

MEET with artist Mideo Cruz curated by a pivotal force in the Southeast Asian art scene Dayang Yraola.

Cruz
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I HAVE A LOT OF HATERS.
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Some people have tried to put me in jail.
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This was a few years ago. I went through a very stressful time. My phone was ringing every five minutes, either from reporters or people sending me death threats.
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I’d received threats before, but this was something different. I was scared but continued to create more works.
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IN A CITY LIKE MANILA, ANYONE CAN KILL YOU IN EXCHANGE FOR A BOTTLE OF BEER.
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I FELT VERY ISOLATED - IT WAS LIKE BEING CRUCIFIED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
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At the time, there was a lot of corruption scandals involving the Catholic church and the government.
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I was sued by the Conservatives for my installation at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines.
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THEY WANTED MY WORK TO BE BANNED AS ILLEGAL.
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The exhibition included collages of religious and pop icon images, symbols of power and money.
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The media made the situation impossible for me by fuelling this controversy that I didn’t really call for. All I wanted to do was to encourage critical thinking.
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IN RETROSPECT, I THINK THEY WANTED TO CRUCIFY SOMEONE FOR THEIR OWN SINS.
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After the legal charges were dismissed, I decided to leave the city and move back to my hometown of Gapan City, a village where most people work as rice farmers.
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It was good to go back to my roots. The farmers’ work ethic had struck me as a child, especially watching my grandfather work. He always wanted to do everything perfectly, even simple things like plowing the field.
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Farmers are actually very artistic, doing things perfectly according to their standards. Their work is almost poetic.
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This level of perfection and craftsmanship is something I strive for, regardless if my work is welcome or not.
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A DIFFERENT VISUAL EXPERIENCE CAN BE RELEVANT TO PEOPLE’S LIVES.
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It’s about creating these ‘private traumas’ to push people out of their conventional views.
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I MAKE ART THAT DISTURBS BECAUSE I WANT A BETTER SOCIETY.