David Wojnarowicz’s unfinished short film made headlines last December when the video was pulled from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery exhibit Hide/Seek, after complaints from the Catholic League. The exhibit is set to open on November 18th at the Brooklyn Museum and "A Fire in My Belly" is once again included–and once again angering members of local Christian groups.
The film, which Wojnarowicz worked on in 1987 as a response to the suffering his partner experienced while dying of AIDS, is a montage of several gruesome images, including "objects dropping into a dish of what looks like blood, a boy breathing fire, hands lacing together a loaf of bread and bloody sewn-up human lips." But the most controversial scene involves a group of ants crawling across a crucifix.
The leader of Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center has expressed his outrage, and a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn commented, "Certainly we don’t think this would be tolerated if this was the image of the Prophet Muhammed or any other religious symbol."
This isn’t the first time the Brooklyn Museum ruffled feathers. In 1999, Mayor Rudy Giuliani unsuccessfully attempted to remove a painting of the Virgin Mary that was covered in elephant dung from display. A ten-second shot of an ant-covered crucifix seems pretty tame in comparison, and it’s not likely the museum will budge under the pressure of religious groups.
Of course, you can view the entire video online, so go crazy, you blasphemous art fans!
David Wojnarowicz "A Fire in My Belly" Original from ppow_gallery on Vimeo.