Now through February 13, 2011, SPACES will be screening the censored David Wojnarowicz film A Fire in My Belly in The Vault, SPACES' digital audio/visual space.
The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian made a decision on December 1, 2010 to remove from the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture (http://npg.si.edu/exhibit/hideseek) a film by the artist David Wojnarowicz. Their decision was made after protests lead by the Catholic League and several members of Congress. In particular, the scenes in the film that the Catholic League found offensive were views of ants crawling over a figurine of Christ on the cross.
Wojnarowicz is no stranger to controversy, as much of his art dealt with AIDS and H.I.V. during the 1980s. A Fire in My Belly, the film in question, was made from 1986 to 1987, a particularly tumultuous time for the artist. In 1987 Wojnarowicz's mentor and lover died of AIDS, and David learned that he himself was H.I.V.-positive. Drawing from his personal experiences in Catholic school and his travels, Wojnarowicz said that he used the imagery of Christ to "make a symbol that would show that [Christ] would take on the suffering of the vast amounts of addiction that I saw on the streets. And I did this because I saw very little treatment available for people who had this illness."
SPACES stands by the estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W. gallery in calling an end to single-sided debates and censorship regarding AIDS, H.I.V. and queer identities in favor of information and dialogue. SPACES presents for the public two versions of the film A Fire in My Belly so that the public may be informed and decide for themselves where they stand on the issue.
Admission to SPACES and The Vault are FREE.
Click here for the full press release: http://www.thisisnotthe.com/2010/press/101217_wojnarowicz.pdf
Additional coverage on the Wojnarowicz/Smithsonian controversy:
PPOW Gallery/Wojnarowicz Estate statement on the censoring of the film:
NYTimes' Holland Cotter on the controversy:
David Wojnarowicz, A Fire In My Belly (Film In Progress) (film still), 1986-87, Super 8mm film, black and white & color (transferred to video). Courtesy of The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York and The Fales Library and Special Col