The controversial 'Mujeres Ocultas' (Hidden Women) exhibition which was opposed by conservative Catholic organizations is on display now in the Museo Santa Clara a block south of Plaza Bolivar. The conservative organizations filed 86 tutelas, or lawsuits, against the exhibition's opening in the museum - which was a church attached to a convent - because of the works' erotic content. The artist, Maria Eugenia Trujillo, mixes and erotic and sacred to represent how women have been 'held in custody, cloistered, forced to submit,' according to the museum.
A museum guide said that each year the Santa Clara selects three outside exhibitions related to the museum's content and history. And Trujillo's work is certainly related. After all, the nuns of this convent were permanently cloistered: once they entered, they never saw the outside world again. Above and at one end of the museum's exhibition hall - once the convent's church - is a dark wooden wall with holes in it. Behind this wall sat the nuns so that they could watch the service while remaining unseen. In 1983, the building became a museum and the Catholic Church officially deconcecrated it, making it a secular place. Altho the artworks on display are all religious, the pieces are considered secular cultural artifacts, a museum guide said.
However, the conservative protesters argued that displaying the erotic material in the one-time Catholic church amounted to a desecration and an attack on their faith. A judge ordered the exhibition temporarily closed, but a Cundinamarca court later ruled that it could go ahead.
Like the subjects of most such controversies, the artworks here are quite tame, tamer than what you see most nights on prime-time television.
|A display criticizes the Catholic church as repressing women and reducing them to 'a single function: procreation.'|
The Santa Clara Museum also contains a permanent display of death portraits of the convent's nuns.
Under the church's alter is a crypt, where prominent people were once buried. Other graves were found under the church's floor. All of these remains were moved to the crypt. Recently, the bones were lent to Universidad de los Andes students, who hope to learn from them about common causes of death hundreds of years ago.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours