SAN DIEGO, CA.-
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
joins dozens of arts organizations and universities across the United States in protesting the Smithsonian Institution
s decision to remove a video by David Wojnarowicz from the National Portrait Gallery
in Washington, DC. Through Feb. 13, MCASD will feature two versions of Wojnarowiczs 1987 video A Fire in My Belly. They will be screened as part of the ongoing exhibition Home Bodies: Selections from the Permanent Collection in the galleries.
On November 30, 2010, administrators of the Smithsonian Institute ordered that Wojnarowiczs 1987 video, A Fire in My Belly, be removed from the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, an exhibition which focuses on sexual difference in the making of modern portraiture. This decision was made in direct response to protests from conservative groups who were offended by an 11-second segment of the video depicting ants crawling on a crucifix.
The two versions of A Fire in My Belly presented in the galleries at MCASD were created from footage taken during the artists journey to Mexico in the 1980s. A sense of magic realism permeates the images, which range from shots of Aztec ruins, rooster fights, and street footage to portraits of the artist performing symbolic gestures meant to convey Wojnarowiczs sense of powerlessness over the purposeful indifference of the American government and public to the AIDS epidemic.
David Wojnarowicz was a seminal artist, filmmaker, writer and activist working in New York in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Wojnarowiczs work has been shown in such venerable institutions as The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, where his work was included in the 1985 Whitney Biennial. He was an activist who, in 1990, won a historic Supreme Court case: David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association. The courts sided with Wojnarowicz after he filed suit against Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association, who copied, distorted, and disseminated the artist's images in a pamphlet to speak out against the National Endowment for the Arts' funding of exhibitions that included art works of Wojnarowicz and other artists. Wojnarowicz died of AIDS-related complications in 1992 at the age of 37.