Olga Viso, a former director of the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and now Walker Art Center director (in Minneapolis), has taken a strong, ethical stance on the controversy over the removal of David Wojnarowicz's video A Fire in My Belly.

She traveled to D.C. to see the exhibition that the video was part of, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.

This week Walker will show the video repeatedly and host discussions.

In her statement, on the Walker's excellent blog, she clarifies why this is not merely an art or aesthetic issue.

Indeed the wall texts are central components of the exhibition in an installation conceived to reveal a social history of silence and oppression rather than trace any specific aesthetic impulses, artistic developments, or concerns. In this regard, it is important to acknowledge that Hide/Seek is not a traditional art exhibition nor is the NPG a conventional art museum. The NPG is a museum of American history that presents art (portraiture exclusively) as an artifact by which to understand and interpret American life and culture.

In every regard, the NPG should be applauded for organizing, mounting, and presenting this groundbreaking, scholarly exhibition and supporting the curators’ well argued thesis that a powerful artistic and cultural legacy has been “hidden in plain sight for more than a century.” Yet the NPG’s and Smithsonian’s surprising decision to remove a key work from the exhibition a month after its opening undermines this thesis as well as the premise and curatorial integrity of the exhibition in alarming ways. Indeed this action serves to sublimate or “hide” the very thing the exhibition attempts to make visible.