On November 30, 2010, the National Portrait Gallery removed David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire In My Belly from the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference And Desire in American Portraiture in response to Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, incoming House Speaker John Boehner, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s declaration that the video is a form of “hate speech.”
In life, Wojnarowicz was a victim of bigotry and sustained campaigns by the religious right to revoke funding for the arts during the ‘Culture Wars’ of the late 80s and early 90s. His art–and A Fire in My Belly, in particular–dealt eloquently and powerfully with the issues of being an openly gay man in America, and the harsh realities of living with HIV/AIDS. Wojnarowicz died in 1992 of AIDS-related complications.
In support of Wojnarowicz and in solidarity with artists and institutions across the country, PICA will be screening A Fire in My Belly for the duration of the National Portrait Gallery exhibition from which it has been removed. Additionally, the Resource Room will host a selection of books and related materials on the controversy, and on the life and work of Wojnarowicz.
Participating Institutions and Individuals
Kristan Kennedy, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Stephanie Snyder, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Gallery, Reed College
Namita Wiggers, Musueum of Contemporary Craft
Matthew Stadler, Publication Studio
Todd Tubutis, Blue Sky Gallery
Patrick Rock, Portland State University Art Galleries
Dan McClure, Charles Voorhies Fine Art Library, Pacific Northwest College of Art
Doug Blandy, Arts and Administration, University of Oregon
Laura Vandenburgh, Art Department, University of Oregon
University of Oregon
Special thanks to the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York, for making the video available for screening.