Yesterday morning saw the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s 1987 video A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” exhibition. This video (which can be viewed here) was deemed controversial for an eleven second clip of ants crawling across a small crucifix. From The Washington Post:
Officials at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday removed a work of video art depicting Christ with ants crawling over him after complaints from a Catholic organization and members of Congress. The four-minute video, created by the late artist David Wojnarowicz, had been on exhibit since Oct. 30 as part of a show on sexual difference in American portraiture. The piece was called “hate speech” by Catholic League president William Donohue and a misuse of taxpayer money by a spokesman for Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive incoming House speaker.
For Post art critic Blake Gopnik (who’s initial, positive review of the show can be found here):
“Hide/Seek,” the show about gay love that it opened in October, was crucial – a first of its kind – and courageous, as well as being full of wonderful art. [. . .] Of course, it’s pretty clear that this has almost nothing to do with religion. Eleven seconds of an ant-covered crucifix? Come on. This fuss is about the larger topic of the show: Gay love, and images of it.