Catholic’s Guilt

December 1st, 2010

Artist-martyr David Wojnarowicz is vital and relevant today, World AIDS day, eighteen years after his death.  Being included in the “first major museum exhibition to focus on sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture” is part of it.  Being banned from the show is more of it.

In response to Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery, the Catholic League cried foul over Fire in My Belly, a Wojnarowicz video “that shows large ants eating away at Jesus on a crucifix.”

And if Christovoric ants are not enough to ruin your museum visit, “the exhibit is replete with homoerotic images.”  Imagine that!  Homoerotic images in a show about gay and lesbian art! And who mastered homoerotic art?  Catholic artists paid by the Medici.

Donatello's very gay David

In fact, the “large ants” appear only in fragments of “Fire in My Belly.”  And they aren’t “eating away at Jesus.”  They are crawling over a crucifix, one probably mass manufactured and of a type available for purchase at any church gift shop or Christian bookstore.  If you want to protest the ingestion of Jesus, then stop by any Catholic mass.  Eating the flesh of Christ – the actual flesh, not a plastic figurine – is a weekly ritual.

Republican leaders, such as John Bo–ner, want you to believe that your hard-earned tax dollars are paying this vile, homoerotic art.  In fact, the exhibition has been privately funded.  Taxes just cover the museum’s operating costs.  Many more of your tax dollars are in Afghanistan, either paying gravediggers or vaporizing in corrupt pockets.  And Catholic institutions shouldn’t complain, because they don’t pay taxes.

Washington Catholics used the homeless as hostages in their crusade against the D.C. Council to preserve the sanctity of discrimination against gays.  It’s better that the homeless should starve than two adult women should marry each other.  Principles before people!

Maurizio Cattelan, La Nona Ora, 1999

It’s a good month for a canonized gay artist to further diversify his portfolio of immortality.  In the last two weeks, the Pope has softened his refusal to use condoms and the Pentagon concluded that gay soldiers wouldn’t bring down the Army.  Gays are less a marginalized exception and more an inextricable contingent.


Martin Selloutvan (Copyright: Smithsonian)

Falling from hero to goat is Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough.  Rather than defending the museum’s obligation to preserve and present critically important art – whether or not we like that art – Clough complacently caves in to the church.  The Smithsonian gained great credibility by providing a major platform for an under recognized legacy in art history and revealing these stories to a wider audience.  Now it’s losing that same credibility by selling out one of the figures who sustained – and still does sustain – this legacy.  G. Wayne Clough blew it.  Living artists with work in the show – and their lenders of the work – should publicly demand that their entries be removed.

After Wojnarowicz

The big winner here is David Wojnarowicz.  The Catholic elite, who you’d think would have a better understanding of the afterlife, seem to forget that controversy fuels immortality.  Every time they complain, an artist angel gets his wings.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Catholic’s Guilt”

  1. Michael says:

    This is an art blog. Can you remove sexuality from art?