Catholic fundamentalists in the US claimed victory in their attempt to cleanse the art world of what they see as offensive use of religious images.
On November 30 they forced the National Portrait Gallery in Washington to remove a video on AIDS from an exhibition on sexuality.
The Catholic League, one of the most aggressive groups within US Religious Right, expressed joy after the decision to pull off A Fire in My Belly, a four-minute video that forms part of the gallery’s newly opened show, ‘Hide/Seek’. The league objected to an 11-second sequence within the video that depicts Jesus on the cross being eaten by large black ants.
The gallery stood up against the league’s complaints, pointing out that the 1987 artworks in question had been created as a commentary on society’s response to the AIDS crisis.
David Wojnarowicz, the artist behind the work, made the video to mark the death of his lover Peter Hujar from AIDS. Wojnarowicz died of AIDS five years later, at 37. Bowing to the pressure, the gallery withdrew the video.
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