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National Portrait Gallery bows to censors, withdraws Wojnarowicz video on gay love

An excerpt from a version of the video 'A Fire in My Belly' by the late artist David Wojnarowicz, which the National Portrait Gallery removed from the show 'Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.'

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And the Portrait Gallery has given into this attack.

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Twenty-one years ago in Washington, the Corcoran Gallery of Art took a huge hit to its prestige and credibility - a hit it has yet to fully recover from - when it canceled a show of images by the gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, under similar puritanical pressures. The Washington Project for the Arts, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary, had its finest moment when it embraced the show instead.

So here's a gauntlet thrown down to test the courage of Washington's art institutions: Will the Hirshhorn Museum, the Katzen Arts Center, tiny Transformer, Flashpoint, or even the Phillips or National Gallery - or maybe the Corcoran, in a rare redemptive moment - have the guts to mount the video the Portrait Gallery has taken down?

Artists have the right to express themselves. Curators have the right to choose the expression they think matters most. And the rest of us have the right to see that expression, and judge those choices for ourselves.

If anyone's offended by any work in any museum, they have the easiest redress: They can vote with their feet, and avoid the art they don't like.

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