The Museum of Modern Art has acquired the David Wojnarowicz video that was removed from an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington after the Smithsonian's top executive G. Wayne Clough bowed to pressure from the New York-based Catholic League and congressional Republicans who objected to the work because it was “anti-Christian”.
Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS in 1992, made A Fire in My Belly in the late 1980s in response to the AIDS crisis. It was included in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (a Smithsonian museum) examining gay themes in American portraiture.
Last week artist AA Bronson joined the fray asking for his piece to be removed from the show in protest. His lawyer has sent a letter to Clough and the director of the National Portrait Gallery, Martin E. Sullivan, threatening legal action if the museum does not comply.
Meanwhile A Fire in My Belly is being shown at MoMA in a collection show that runs to 9 May 2011 and it will feature in an event at the Tate Modern on 22 January to reconsider Wojnarowicz's work in the light of efforts to distort its intentions and legacy.
Image: David Wojnarowicz, A Fire in My Belly (1987), video still