Filed under: Art
The often staid Smithsonian has been the site of controversy recently. A video by the late artist David Wojnarowicz was recently removed from the museum's exhibits. The film, "A Fire in My Belly" (1986-87) which depicts an 11-second scene of ants crawling on a crucifix, an image that Wojnarowicz said reflected his experience of being diagnosed with AIDS, came under fire the Catholic League and members of Congress said it was sacrilegious. After the exhibit was taken out earlier this month protesters took to the steps of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery holding up masks of David Wojnarowicz including images of him with his mouth sewn shut.
On Monday, the Andy Warhol Foundation said that it will withhold future funding to the Smithsonian Institution unless the video is restored. The board of the foundation sent a letter to the Smithsonian calling the censorship "unconscionable." Joel Wachs, president of the foundation, wrote that while the Warhol Foundation has been a proud supporter of the current Portrait Gallery exhibit "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," (the exhibit the video was a part of) but that it can't watch the Smithsonian "bow to the demands of bigots who have attacked the exhibition out of ignorance, hatred and fear." The foundation has given $375,000 over the past three years to various Smithsonian museums, including $100,000 to help fund "Hide/Seek."
Museums, galleries and universities around the country are showing the video and the Association of Art Museum Directors has condemned the Smithsonian's removal of the piece. You can find it online as well.