The human dilemma in Mideo’s “Cyborg Republic”

Text by Kimmy Baraoidan

“Art should be unconventional and [should disturb] people,” said visual artist Mideo Cruz in one of his social media accounts earlier this month. His art—mostly made from found materials, from toys, to knickknacks from thrift stores, to other everyday things—is unorthodox and agitates the minds, stirs the emotions, and grates on the sensibilities of those with conservative leanings.

Mideo Cruz stands in the middle of his latest work exhibited at Blanc Gallery on Katipunan Ave., Quezon City. Photo courtesy of Blanc Gallery.

Mideo Cruz stands in the middle of his latest work exhibited at Blanc Gallery on Katipunan Ave. in Quezon City.
Photo courtesy of Blanc Gallery.

“Cyborg Republic” is Cruz’s latest exhibition, which opened last July 4, 2015 at Blanc Gallery on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. It features his art pieces created from found objects like Happy Meal toys, plastic figurines, toy soldiers, action figures, and religious icons— representations of social, cultural, political, and religious hegemony—deliberately dismembered at precise segments, with the different amputated limbs or parts carefully put together and arranged in bento boxes, each frame rife with unabashed social commentary.

A close up image of the piece "Corporate Christ" by Mideo Cruz. Photo by: Chris Quintana

A close-up image of the piece “Corporate Christ” by Mideo Cruz.
Photo by: Chris Quintana

The exhibit speaks of capitalist or industrial or consumerist excess, says Cruz in an interview with The Alternative. He says he reuses industrial excess, sourced mostly from thrift shops or ukay-ukay, and reconstructs the objects to give new meaning to them. In “Corporate Christ,” where a skeleton has its arms—with its right wrist dressed in a suit—spread like the crucified Christ, Cruz depicts how we are nailed, either voluntarily or against our will, to an invisible cross that is our daily routine, not knowing if we are actually living, until we turn into bones, literally. He adds that this is the usual thing. “Hindi tayo nabubuhay dahil tao tayo o [dahil] gusto natin. Nabubuhay tayo just to survive (We are not living because we are humans or because we want to live. We are living just to survive).”

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