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Posted inArt

Interview with Hide/Seek Co-curator David C Ward

David C. Ward is co-curator of the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition, which has become a lightning rod for right-wing attacks on the federally funded Smithsonian institution. The show is the first major museum exhibition to focus on sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture. There are many LGBT images on display but the work is not limited to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender artists and encompasses work by many names that are mainstays in art history, including Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Romaine Brooks, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, AA Bronson, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

But what has really catapulted the show into the limelight is the fact that last week Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough ordered David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” video pulled from the National Portrait Gallery show.

Posted inOpinion

Julian Assange Is a 21st Century Marat

An Australian internet activist named Julian Assange (bio) exposes top secret American diplomacy on an international website.

He’s profiled last June in The New Yorker by Raffi Khatchadourian, photographed by Phillip Toledano, has a warrant issued for rape in Sweden, he’s denial bailed in the UK, and the right-wing American politicians (which is almost all of them, nowadays) want him to be tried for treason.

Yes, this must be the 21st Century.

Why am I reminded of Jacques-Louis David’s “The Death of Marat” (1793)? Probably because there is a faction in the world today who is trying to martyr Assange as a prophet of the new flesh, though so far they’re losing.

Posted inNews

DC Arts Community Protests Smithsonian Censorship (Photos)

About 150 protesters assembled at in the brisk cold outside Transformer’s gallery space before marching to the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown. That’s not a small number: More than 100 people standing up for the memory of David Wojnarowicz and the sanctity of the museum as a space free from politics. These protesters stood up for LGBT rights.

All photos by Natalie Cheung, and reporting by Kriston Capps, critic for Washington City Paper

Posted inOpinion

Smithsonian Cowering From Idiots (video)

On a recent RT America segment, a Catholic League spokesperson is calling David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” video anti-Christian and compares ants on Jesus to “putting a swastika on a synagogue.” The video was part of the Smithsonian’s Hide/Seek exhibition and was recently pulled when various right-wing politicians, goaded by the Catholic League, manufactured outrage at 10 seconds in a 30-minute video.

Posted inNews

Smithsonian Caves to GOP Pressure, Removes Ant-Covered Jesus Video

The National Portrait Gallery has caved under Republican political pressure and removed a potentially “offensive” video work by David Wojnarowicz, a multi-media artist who was felled by AIDS in 1992, from its Hide/Seek exhibition. The exhibition, deemed brave and important by critics, uncovers previously-veiled LGBT influences in the history of art. Yet threats and demands that the exhibition be canceled from Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have caused the NPG to remove Wojnarowicz’ “A Fire In My Belly,” a video that features a brief clip of ants crawling over a crucifixion Jesus figure.

Posted inNews

Kanye’s George Condo Album Cover (Probably) Banned

In case you haven’t heard from the star’s overactive Twitter account, Kanye’s latest album is called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the just-released album cover art pretty much matches the title.

Following Kanye’s GOOD Friday single series which also featured the artist, the album cover is painted by none other than 1980s art world wunderkind George Condo. The image depicts a bear-like Kanye reclining on a bright blue couch, a naked human/bird hybrid with a polka-dotted (snow leopard?) tail perches on his leg and shrieks into the foreground, a classic Condo grin on her face. I would tell you this is a fine example of Fauvist coloring, but somehow it seems unnecessary.

Posted inNews

Art Attacker Pleads Not Guilty in Colorado

The Montana truck driver accused of destroying a controversial art work that featured the image of Jesus at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland, Colorado has pleaded not guilty to charges against her Friday morning. According to news reports on 9news.com and the Denver Post website, Kathleen Folden pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal mischief, a class-four felony. She waived her right to a preliminary hearing and is scheduled for a three-day trial in January. If convicted, she could face two to six years in prison.

According to the Coloradoan, “Folden wore a black T-shirt to court that read ‘Jesus beat the devil with a big wooden stick.’” The Denver Post is also reporting that Enrique Chagoya, the Stanford University professor whose work was destroyed is “reportedly going to create a portrait of Jesus Christ for Loveland’s Resurrection Christian Fellowship as a conciliatory gesture.”

Posted inNews

BREAKING: People Want More Topless Nudes

We always say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether it’s destroying a blasphemous print, banning Robert Mapplethorpe from NEA funding, or censoring the David with a fig leaf, art presents some pretty easy flashpoints for scandal. Chief among them: nudity. An obvious lack of clothing rarely fails to be provocative, and such is the case with a certain Pittsfield, Massachusetts woman’s quest to allow women to go out in public, as men do, without shirts on.

Posted inNews

Art Work Attacked in Colorado Museum

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Montana, has been charged with attacking an art work by California-based artist Enrique Chagoya with a crowbar while it was on display in the Loveland Museum Gallery in Loveland, Colorado. The 12-panel lithograph, according to the artist’s statement to FoxNews, depicts “no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact” and portrays “a dressed woman, a religious icon’s head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page.”

Critics of the work argue that it represents Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the son of God, as receiving oral sex from another man. FoxNews gives its own interpretation of the work and describes it as having “several images of Jesus, including one in which he appears to be receiving oral sex from a man as the word ‘orgasm’ appears beside Jesus’ head.” The attack took place last Wednesday at 4pm.