The short answer is probably not under US law but we’re not sure under Canadian law.
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.
Fighting the perception that all Catholics are as conservative as those espoused in William Donohue’s Catholic League call for the Smithsonian to remove David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” from Hide/Seek, Catholics United has begun a petition calling for closer scrutiny Donohue’s organization. Specifically, they target his high salary and his claim to represent the wishes of all Catholics. In the meantime, artist AA Bronson has repeatedly been denied his request to have his “Felix, June 5, 1994” removed from the exhibition, and Patti Smith spoke at the Smithsonian despite controversy.
In an email posted on Newsgrist, artist AA Bronson, who asked that his portrait of Felix Partz be removed from the Smithsonian’s Hide/Seek exhibition following the censorship, suggests to director Martin Sullivan that his piece be removed to make room for the Wojnarowicz video.
At a conversation held with Hide/Seek curators Jonathan Katz and David C. Ward at the New York Public Library December 15th, a few things became clear about the censorship scandal: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery director Martin Sullivan is far from repentant over the decision, and the Catholic League, who initiated the “offense” taken at the video, are largely absent.
New York-based artist and artistic director of the Institute of Art, Religion and Social Justice AA Bronson has sent an email to the National Portrait Gallery requesting that his work “Felix, June 5, 1994” (1994/99) [pictured above] be removed from their Hide/Seek exhibition in light of the recent censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire In My Belly” video.
New York Art Book Fair kicks off today, so if you like print media AND contemporary art as much as we do (even though we’re online), there’s only place to be this weekend: MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, where the fair is being held. Hosted by AA Bronson, president of NYC art media shop and proponent Printed Matter, New York Art Book Fair is an unrivaled chance to get a look at that rare breed of affordable collectible contemporary art: artist books.