Smart Museum of Art to Screen Wojnarowicz video “Fire in My Belly” this January

December 16, 2010 · Print This Article

The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art is the first Chicago museum to step up to the plate and plan a continuously-screened exhibition of David Wojnarowicz’ video, “Fire in My Belly,” in January. The video was removed from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture after religious organizations and right-wing politicians decried the piece as “anti-Christian.” The video will be screened in a continuous loop from January 4 – February 6, 2011. There will also be a faculty panel discussion on the work and the debates surrounding it at a still-to-be-determined date and time in January.  Also – you know the video can easily be accessed on YouTube, right? Further details on the Smart’s screening can be found below.

David Wojnarowicz: A Fire in My Belly
January 4 – February 6, 2011

The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art will present David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly, joining with institutions across the country to screen the 1987 video work, which was recently removed from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture following protests by a religious group and conservative politicians.

The silent,13-minute version of Wojnarowicz’s unfinished film will be screened from January 4 to February 6, during the first month of the University of Chicago’s winter quarter. It will be shown on a continuous loop as part of the black box video series presented within the Smart Museum’s contemporary galleries.

A faculty panel discussion about the work and debate surrounding it will take place on a January date TBD. It is organized in collaboration with the University’s art history department and Jenn Sichel, a University of Chicago graduate student who served as a research assistant for Hide/Seek and has been a leading voice in protests against the work’s censorship.

“There is no question that Wojnarowicz’s video is provocative,” said Anthony Hirschel, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum. “However, as a university art museum, the Smart is committed to providing access to important works and to fostering discussion around even the most challenging art. This presentation of A Fire in My Belly gives our audiences have the opportunity to discuss and judge its merits for themselves.”

After it was pulled from Hide/Seek, institutions and galleries around the country have organized screenings and discussions of A Fire in My Belly. A national calendar of screenings and related events is available at Further background and a compilation of statements from museum officials and others is available on the College Art Association’s website.

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