Happy World AIDS Day, everyone. Last night, the Smithsonian National Gallery removed A Fire in My Belly, a 1987 video art piece by the downtown artist David Wojnarowicz (who died of AIDS in 1992), because of pressure applied by incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner, responding to Christian groups who objected to the image of ants crawling over a crucifix in the LGBT-themed video.
Back during the end of history, when the Christian Right had less geopolitics to worry about, this stuff used to happen all the time, as we were recently reminded when Todd Haynes’s National Endowment for the Arts-supported Queer Cinema landmark Poison was revived. But at least when Jesse Helms tried to break the NEA, during the Bush I years, Karen Finley was actually alive. We’ve long known that contemporary American conservatism is less an intellectually coherent ideology than it is hollow suits disingenuously repeating long-disproved Reaganite talking points for a frightened electorate—but who suspected that the GOP of 2010 couldn’t even find its own culture wars to fight? David Wojnarowicz was an arts-funding martyr two decades ago. In this interview, he talks about his own experiences with federal arts funding and those who would suppress it. To the barricades!
I’m a liberal Democrat but I’m sympathetic to their argument here. If we don’t want federally funded Christian art, we can’t have federally funded anti-Christian art.
not only can we have all the federally funded anti-Christian art we desire, this piece is hardly “anti-Christian”. So speaketh Sullivan: “The piece, which was made in the late
We don’t fund art, we fund artists. And if a jury of professionals from the arts deemed artist X’s “Christian” art worthy of funding, I’d have no problem with the resultant art. (I’d say that “Piss Christ” is Christian art: it’s a really beatific photographic.)
Also of note here is the fact that the objection, in this case, is not to funding, but to the very display of the art: federal money supports the administration of the Smithsonian, but not individual exhibitions.
@Jonny Diamond – I’m telling you, if we go down this road, we are going to end up with your taxpayer dollars funding schlocky Christian art. Because it would be very easy for them to establish their own “jury of arts professionals” to promote that stuff. Getting the government into the game of deciding what is and isn’t art is a bad bad move.
It’s like I’m not even here.