The murderous impact of homophobia on the AIDS crisis is so apparent and traumatic that the violent, systemic racism that undergirds it gets lost.
Currently on view in the refectory at Union Theological Seminary are 16 beige painted rectangles, including one ensconced in a prewar, built-in, gilded mold over the large fireplace. The rectangles are silhouettes of the portraits of former Union board members and school presidents that traditionally occupy the space. The portraits’ absence, along with an accompanying publication, make up an exhibition titled About Face: Portraits at Union Theological Seminary, by artist Cathy Busby.
What do Wikileaks and the art world’s response to the censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” by the Smithsonian have in common? Both make public what elites want to keep secret. They illustrate how little, if anything, can be hidden anymore and demonstrate how the more something is concealed the more the demand for it to be revealed grows.
What the complex and seemingly unrelated stories of Wikileaks and the censorship of “A Fire in My Belly” at the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture highlights is how insiders, or those with insider access, can use their privilege to unsettle the status quo when it isn’t working anymore.