The 5pm Post – “Transformer responds to censorship with all day screening of David Wojnarowicz’ A Fire in My Belly”

From a transformer press release:

The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution
have CENSORED the 1987 video work
A Fire in My Belly, by David Wojnarowicz.

Under pressure from the Catholic League, The Smithsonian Institution has removed this work from the National Portrait Gallery’s current
Hide/Seek exhibition.

Transformer will begin showing this important video work
in our 1404 P Street, NW Washington, DC storefront project space
beginning at 1 pm today.

Youtube version here

For more information see Blake Gopnik’s
article in today’s Washington Post

In honor of World AIDS Day & Day With(out) Art, and the many alternative art spaces, visual arts organizations, artists, and activists around the world that have paved the path for freedom of expression & the existence of experimental arts venues like Transformer that champion the artist’s voice without constraints, we are proud to be able to share this work with DC audiences.

Many thanks to Patrick O’Connell and Visual AIDS for inspiration.
Additional thanks to our colleagues at Provisions Library.

17 Comment

  • Ugh. This makes me so angry. Perhaps an extreme assessment, but from the incoming Speaker’s threat today to slash the Smithsonian’s funding, to the big, wholesome community book burnings–it feels like a slippery slope.

    • Agreed!

      I heard the clip of Cantor on the radio this morning. He apparently feels that the Smithsonian system – filled with art, as well as historic treasures of national value, relics of the space program, natural history artifacts, etc. – is on par with the spandex, bad hair, and limited plots of professional wrestling?

      From the clip – “Why should the working class pay for the leisure of the elite when in fact one of the things the working class likes to do for leisure is to go to professional wrestling? And if I suggested we should have federal funds for professional wrestling to lower the cost of the ticket, people would think I’m insane. I don’t go to museums any more than any Americans do.”

      Seriously? I’m pretty sure that even my most NASCAR obsessed, blue collar, high school drop out relatives might just be able to see the benefit of having a premier set of museums in our nation’s capital, and they don’t have the benefit of conducting their lives within a half mile of these buildings.

  • It is. And it’s happened before – very similar to (though still not as extreme as) what happened in 1989 with Serrano and Mapplethorpe:

  • No longer appears to be on the youtubes. Unless I used the googles wrong. I wanted to see what got the Catholic Leagues, which I believe is essentially one guy, panties in a bind.

  • Nope. This ain’t the “America” they told me about in 4th grade.
    Bravo Transformer.

  • I’m totally in favor of unfettered artistic expression and no censorship. I’m also tired to death of people degrading religious symbols for “shock value” in trying to make an artistic statement – it’s lazy and unimaginative.

    • Same as politically motivated art, though: as long as there are large (in some cases, governmentally-mandated) religions, artists gotta do their thing to shake it up. Some of it is definitely better than others, but in society as in physics, every action must have an equal/opposite reaction…

    • it’s not for shock value. for centuries artists have used images of christ’s passion to make a human connection with their own suffering to that of jesus. it’s not out of line with catholic theology. it’s common practice even today for catholic hospitals and hospices to use religious images of christ’s suffering as a point of identification for patients with the suffering of their god on the cross in the hope for heaven’s respite and eventual resurrection of the body.

      i’m not accusing you, specifically, victoria, but i feel like people assume gay artists only ever use religious imagery to shock. more frequently, they use it as part of the tradition of western art.

      • I didn’t say anything about gay artists – only lame artistic expression. – And I’m not calling Wojnarowicz lame – I haven’t see the video and so of course wouldn’t judge it.

        I am talking about the appropriation of religious symbolism or object as a way to convey a thought or attitude, which I consider lazy. I am not offended by a desecrated crucifix but by lack of intellectual effort it requires from both the artist and the viewer.

        It is the same way that vampire books are lazy.

        Gory crucifixes have been standard religious symbols (primarily) in the Catholic church for centuries. Degrading those crucifixes – or what would be considered degrading by those who value the symbolic object – sticking said crucifix in urine or elephant poop or covering it with ants is not the same thing.

        I am personally more offended by novelty tissue boxes with the tissues coming out of a Moai’s nose.

        And I think it would be hilarious to make a “Piss Christ” frozen lemonaid ice block to cool the Christmas punchbowl.

  • What some people call art, some people call trash, but at least we can peacefully disagree.
    But try creating any art depicting muhammad, then there might be a problem. Just ask Molly Norris.

  • Freedom of expression blah, blah. Nanny state blah, blah. Censorship balh, blah.


    Captcha: NSFM

  • See the Video watch the Demo and listen to the interviews

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