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'A Fire in My Belly' playing at Richmond Center

Feb. 7, 2011

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Richmond Center for Visual Arts, in collaboration with New York's PPOW Gallery, is showing the David Wojnarowicz film, "A Fire in My Belly," through March 25.

It can be seen in the Richmond Center's Monroe-Brown Gallery during normal gallery hours.

Richmond Center Gallery Hours

  • Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday: noon to 6 p.m.

In conjunction with the exhibit, a lecture will take place at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 21, in the RCVA's Monroe-Brown Gallery. During the free, public event, Dr. Karl Schoonover, assistant professor of film studies at MSU, will help put the work of Wojnarowicz into a contemporary perspective.

About the film

"A Fire in My Belly" was censored from the Smithsonian Institution's "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Its presence on campus offers students and the community an opportunity to view the film and engage in a dialogue about the artist's work and issues regarding censorship and artistic freedom.

According to the PPOW Gallery, which represents Wojnarowicz's estate:

"The call for the removal of 'A Fire in My Belly' by Catholic League president William Donahue is based on his misinterpretation that this work was 'hate speech, pure and simple.' This statement insults the legacy of Wojnarowicz, who dedicated his life to activism and the arts community."

Wojnarowicz's work is collected by international museums including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Reina Sofia in Madrid, Museum Ludwig in Cologne and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Wojnarowicz is also an established writer, best known for his memoirs, "Close to the Knives" and "Memories That Smell Like Gasoline," which are included on many university syllabi. In 1990, the artist won a historic Supreme Court case, David Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association. Courts sided with Wojnarowicz after he filed suit against Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association for copying, distorting and disseminating his images in a pamphlet that spoke out against the NEA's funding of exhibits that included the work of Wojnarowicz and other artists.

"We are deeply troubled that the remarks, which led to the removal of David's work from 'Hide/Seek,' so closely resembled those of the past," says a spokesperson for the PPOW Gallery. "Wojnarowicz's fight for freedom of artistic expression, once supported by the highest court, is now challenged again. In his absence, we know that his community, his supporters, and the many who believe in his work will carry his convictions forward."

For more information, contact the Frostic School of Art Exhibitions Office at (269) 387-2455. Parking is available in the Miller Parking Ramp, adjacent to the Richmond Center.

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Media contact: Mindi Bagnall, (269) 387-2467, mindi.bagnall@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
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