1708 Gallery Protests Censorship

1708 Gallery will be screening David Wojnarowicz’s film, A Fire in My Belly, from January 7 through February 12, 2011. The film will run on a continuous loop during regular gallery hours, Monday – Friday 11-5 and Saturday 11-4.

The film was removed from an exhibition, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” at the National Portrait Gallery, a member organization of the Smithsonian Institute, under pressure from religious and political groups, a decision that has been widely criticized by the arts community. In response to this censorship, 1708 Gallery joins an international group of arts organizations in protesting the removal of Wojnarowicz’s film by screening A Fire In My Belly.

Wojnarowicz was a prominent artist and activist in the New York art world of the 1980’s. He worked across many disciplines, including painting, photography and performance, and he often combined media. The film is a montage of footage shot in Mexico representing the artist’s rage and sorrow surrounding the death of a lover to AIDS, his own H.I. V, status, and what he perceived as a wide-spread lack of empathy and support for the devastating disease.

The portion of the film that drew ire is an 11-second segment that depicts ants crawling over a crucifix. In a 1989 interview, Wojnarowicz spoke about the role of animals as symbolic imagery in his work, stating, “Animals allow us to view certain things that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to see in regard to human activity. …I use the ants as a metaphor for society because the social structure of the ant world is parallel to ours.” For more information about David Wojnarowicz and A Fire in My Belly, please visit www.ppowgallery.com.

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