The Smithsonian Institution has suddenly yanked David Wojnarowicz's video Fire in My Belly from the celebrated gay portraiture show Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.
The Smithsonian is responding to pressure from the Catholic church and two powerful Republicans, presumptive House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor, reports The Washington Post and Modern Art Notes.
This is insane. The church objects to a segment of the video with ants crawling on a crucifix. If the church objects to violent imagery, it will have to banish half the art ever made—and several pieces I saw just this morning in Seattle Art Museum's European galleries.
And when Republicans begin pressuring art shows, it's Mapplethorpe all over again, people.
The Smithsonian must return the video to its galleries, and, as MAN argues, other museums should begin showing it like crazy in solidarity.
Lying down didn't work last time the Republicans declared war on art—remember?—and it won't work this time.
UPDATE: Kriston Capps reports the mystery of what actually happened: "Was the Smithsonian Institution spooked by a couple of comments flacks gave to CNS?"
And Capps has also got a rousing pep-talk for art against the dumb GOP. I'm not feeling so confident, but I love reading KC as always.