The Washington Post simply cannot stop putting protesters of the removal of an ants-on-Jesus video on the front page of the Style section. Once again in Friday's paper, art critic Blake Gopnik is publicizing gay artist A.A. Bronson's request that his huge color photo of his skeletal lover Felix Partz in his bed hours after he died in 1994 be removed from the exhibit:
"I had resisted taking this step, hoping that some reconciliation could be reached regarding the censorship of the David Wojnarowicz video," Bronson wrote, "but it is clear that this is not coming anytime soon. As an artist who saw firsthand the tremendous agony and pain that so many of my generation lived through, and died with, I cannot take the decision of the Smithsonian lightly. To edit queer history in this way is hurtful and disrespectful."
The part in bold type was also a pull quote in large letters accompanying the story. Gopnik called Bronson "a pioneer of gay-themed contemporary art" and oozed "The photo is one of the exhibition's linchpin works, which this writer praised as a 'harrowing, almost unbearable image' in a review of 'Hide/Seek.'"
He recalled that on November 30, "Christian activists and members of Congress pressured the museum into removing a 1987 video by the late artist David Wojnarowicz; it included 11 seconds of footage of a crucifix crawling with ants."
By now, a reader might raise the obvious question: if the 11 seconds were so unimportant, why would the Post run an ongoing series of stories urging the desecration of Jesus Christ be re-installed?
Gopnik also stressed that Bronson has theological credentials, and he doesn't find the Wojnarowicz video to be anti-Christian, a view that the Post has promoted repeatedly at the expense of Christians who disagree:
Though not a follower of any single creed ("I've never figured out what I am"), Bronson works as artistic director of the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York, which describes itself as "the oldest independent, nondenominational seminary in the nation."
He said that many of his peers at the seminary find Wojnarowicz's video to be an "entirely appropriate" use of Jesus on the cross, whose image, they think, stands for "universal suffering." Bronson said he believes "a very large contingent of Christians" would approve of this reading of the video, "but it is less visible than the Christian right."
Though raised in the Anglican Church in Canada, Bronson says he stopped practicing when he was 7 because of fury at a hypocritical Sunday-school teacher.
More recently, he spent 14 years as a practicing Buddhist. "In the end," he said, "I seem to have come back in the direction of Christianity."