The National Portrait Gallery just removed an important video work, “Fire In My Belly,” by the artist David Wojnarowicz with audio by Diamanda Galas from it’s current exhibition about gay and lesbian identity in the US. Call for the end to this censorship and demand that the video be re-united with the exhibition.
The video may be difficult to watch, but it deals with important issues, unpleasant subjects, and the reality of AIDS for these great artists. Good art often pushes boundaries and makes people uncomfortable, and this video is a perfect example of this fact. Wojnarowicz was an amazing artist who made astounding work with an urgency and a purpose. He inspired an entire generation of gay artists. Diamanda Galas is also an important musician whose work has addressed issues such as gay rights, AIDS, and genocide. To censor these important artists is totally unacceptable.
The Catholic League and right-wing politicians called for his video to be removed, so you can see the ugly specter of the culture wars rearing its head again. The museum’s director, Martin Sullivan caved to their demands. The exhibition was not funded with public dollars and the removal of the video is censorship pure and simple. The National Portrait Gallery should retain its independence and ability to exhibit shows that represent the identities of all Americans, not just the dominant culture, or views only palatable to right-wing conservatives. Please join in expressing your desire to have the video put back in the show by calling your representatives, members of congress, and the director of the museum.