It is with bittersweet nostalgia that I reminisce about the first wave of culture wars unleashed by the exact same usual and deplorable suspects 22 years ago on the likes of Mapplethorpe (whose body was still warm), Frank Moore (whose physical state as a CP quadriplegic was never entered into the congressional record although his name was), Karen Finley, Annie Sprinkle, et al; and any institution that dared show them. Now a combination of Republicans flexing their newly endowed muscle and administrative cowardice has revived those horrid times with the yanking of a video and threatens to go even further in decimating free speech and public art funding in America.

Many institutions around the Bay Area have shown excerpts from the cause célèbre work and latest target of the Conservative Movement’s contempt and wrath A Fire in My Belly by the late David Wojnarowicz. SFMOMA will be screening the full 13-minute version of the video - shot on Super 8 film in 1986/87 - on January 4th, to be followed by a discussion including Rudy Lemcke (artist), SFMOMA curators Rudolf Frieling and Dominic Willsdon and others.

The piece is a thoughtful and pained meditation on manhood, sickness and being an American in a xenophobic foreign land, an unnamed Mexican boarder town. Bristling sensitivity to myth and pop culture is the main character. All of Wojnarowicz’s themes: death, nihilism, mysticism, sexual tension are represented in graphic simplicity though detached but keen photography and ingenious montage. And not a genuinely shocking or disturbing moment to be found. Just heartbreaking poetics.

Oh, to be able to ask one of these defenders of Christianity whether they would rather their child see ants on a plastic Jesus or the much lauded snuff film The Passion of The Christ?

Here we go again.

January 4th, Phyllis Wattis Theater
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 
Free and open to the public

- Dale Hoyt [Tuesday, December 28th, 2010]


Aw yes the gud ‘ol days of Robert Karen & Frank’s censorship. I also remember it nostalgically a thrilling time 2b a young artist. Artists reflect back wat is, we r the mirrors, & conscious, we dare 2look & share our truth. Thk u Wojnarowicz.

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