The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington D.C. banned a controversial video from being shown in an exhibition called “Hide/Seek”.
The video depicts a crucifix of Jesus Christ covered in crawling ants. The video is by David Wojnarowicz and is called “A Fire In My Belly” meant to bring attention to the AIDS epidemic.
The exhibit as a whole is meant to focus on sex, religion, and social inequalities. The Smithsonian secretary G. Wayne Clough made the decision to have the video removed after those in the U.S. congress and museum visitors complained the work was sacrilegious.
Critics of the museum’s decision to have the video removed claim that it is a violation of freedom of speech and expression. The video ultimately ended up in a trailer on the street outside the museum where visitors can see the banned work.
Michael Blasenstein was banned from the Smithsonian for life after he played the controversial video on an iPad as visitors entered the exhibit after it had been removed. Blasenstein worked with others to have the video shown in the trailer, and he and others claim free speech laws have been violated.