Hartford Art Group to Show Controversial Video Smithsonian Removed

Catholic group called video an insult to Christians

In a rare move last week, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery pulled a piece of video art after it was called sacrilegious.

The video, "Fire in My Belly" by David Wojnarowicz depicts ants crawling over a crucifix.

The removal created a firestorm of its own and several galleries have decided to show the video, including Real Art Ways in Hartford.

"The Smithsonian has given in to anti-gay bullies," Real Art Ways director Will K. Wilkins said in a statement. "We are presenting this video to enable people to make up their own minds about the work, and about the incident. David Wojnarowicz can't be here to speak up for himself, but his work has a power, rage and sorrow that is soulful and unforgettable. We are proud to again present his art."

The Smithsonian removed the video from an exhibit after Catholic League President Bill Donohue called the piece “hate speech” and argued that it was created to insult Christians. Then, he started a campaign to get Congress to cut funding for the Smithsonian, after he said a New York Post reporter told him about the piece.

Museum Director Martin Sullivan issued a statement saying the museum was not trying to offend anyone, that the video was included in an exhibit that deals with gender identity and sexual orientation and was meant to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim.

"A Fire in My Belly" was created in 1987 to honor of Peter Hujar, a colleague and lover of Wojnarowicz who that year had died of complications due to AIDS, according to Real Art Ways.

It is now on display at Real Art Ways.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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