Brooklyn Museum Won’t Heed Christian Group’s Complaints About “A Fire in My Belly”

11/15/2011 8:58 AM |

A still from David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly. (Courtesy PPOW Gallery)
  • A still from David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly.” (Courtesy PPOW Gallery and the artist’s estate)

One of the good things about the ongoing controversy over the 12 seconds of ants-on-crucifix imagery in the late David Wojnarowicz‘s Super 8 short “A Fire in My Belly” (1987) is that every time I post about it I get to embed the 21-minute film in full (see below), hopefully doing some small part to make clear that this important work is not anti-Christian, as its opponents allege. Today’s installment of Wojnaroversy (alternate series title: “Censorship in My Belly”) is a happy one, as the Brooklyn Museum confirms that, unlike Washington D.C.’s National Portrait Gallery, it will not remove “A Fire in My Belly” from the exhibition of queer portraiture Hide/Seek, which opens at 200 Eastern Parkway on Friday.

The museum’s director, Arnold Lehman, had pretty much said as much previously, but in a statement released on Friday and quoted by the Brooklyn Paper, Brooklyn Museum spokeswoman Sally Williams said that Wojnarowicz’s “video is an expression of the artist’s outrage at indifference to human suffering during the early years of the AIDS crisis… We strongly encourage anyone who has concerns about ‘Hide/Seek’ to visit the museum and view it in person.”

Despite calls from the Brooklyn Diocese—which does not plan to protest at the exhibition opening—pleading for the work’s removal, it will be included in the 105-piece exhibition of portraits of and/or by gay American artists from the late-19th century to the present. The Paper notes that the offices of both Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz and New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg support the Brooklyn Museum in this issue.

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture opens Friday November 18 and remains on view through February 12, 2012. In the meantime, as promised, you can watch “A Fire in My Belly” right here: