Remember how last year the Smithsonian Institute caved to demands from Christian
fundamentalists groups that the national museum remove David Wojnarowicz’s 1987 short film “A Fire in My Belly” from its National Portrait Gallery exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture? And remember how happy we were to hear that the otherwise widely-praised exhibition would be coming to the Brooklyn Museum, with Wojnarowicz’s film included? Well, unfortunately, predictably, the Christians’ crusade continues as local groups are now pressuring the Brooklyn Museum to remove the late artist’s film from the exhibition.
Both the Christian Post and Daily News note that the Brooklyn Museum has received many complaints from members of local groups outraged by the shortened, four-minute version of the 21-minute original’s (embedded below) ten-second segment in which ants crawl over a crucifix.
The Christian Post writes:
In reaction to the forthcoming exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, Director Arnold Lehman said he received thousands of “pre-programmed” emails from a Catholic group. Lehman said the film is an important piece of American art history.
Lehman tells the Daily News: “For a city that prides itself on diversity and creativity, there couldn’t be a better exhibition.”
Meanwhile aggrieved Christians get biblical in their criticisms of the piece:
“What is the point?’’ said Pastor A. R. Bernard, who leads Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center. “I think this is the piece in the Hide/seek collection they really need to hide.”
“As a Catholic, this is very sad for me,” said Ginette Peterburs, 59, of Crown Heights. “It is not art, it is just disguising.”
Undeterred, the museum plans to show every piece in the Hide/Seek exhibition, which opens November 18 and remains on view through February 12.