As a Los Angeles resident-artist of 63 years, I was glad to see articles in the LA Times about the controversy at the Smithsonian over the censorship-removal of David Wojnarowicz‘s video from an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery.
For anyone who is not familiar with this incident, G. Wayne Clough, head of the Smithsonian, ordered the removal of Wojnarowicz’s video which the artist intended as an anguished tribute to his partner who died from AIDS in 1987. The Smithsonian bowed to select Republican politicians and conservative groups (most of whom, interestingly enough, may not have actually seen the exhibit), but were upset because the video contained an 11-second segment showing ants crawling on a crucifix.
It is important, however, for the press and the public to realize that this is not the first such incidence of censorship action taken by the Smithsonian. As an artist whose work has been the subject of a Smithsonian censorship attempt — and whose colleague was censored — allow me to provide a brief history…
- 7 Things We Learned From G. Wayne Clough’s Post-Censorship PR Offensive (censorshipinamerica.com)
- Discussion: Smithsonian Censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s “Fire in My Belly” (censorshipinamerica.com)
- Internal Tensions Over Smithsonian Censorship, Letter Reveals (censorshipinamerica.com)
- Banned in D.C., Welcome in Houston: CAMH Tackles Censorship Through Christ (censorshipinamerica.com)
- Smithsonian: Just Put the Art Back (censorshipinamerica.com)