(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said that removing a video with images of ants swarming over Jesus Christ on a crucifix is a “positive” step, but added that this does not mean the controversial exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, featuring images of brothers kissing, genitalia, cremated ashes from an AIDS suicide, and men in chains should continue.
“No, I think it should be closed,”
“What they are trying to do is have an in-your-face exhibit, and that’s fine and dandy if they’re paying for it with their own nickel,”
Kingston said that even with the removal of “A Fire in My Belly” video that showed an ant-covered Christ, mummified humans, bowls of blood, and full frontal male nudity, there are other elements of the show that make it inappropriate for display in a federal institution where families come to see iconic works of arts such as the portraits of U.S. presidents.
“This is an ‘in your face’ exhibit,”
“So you move from Elvis to the presidents of
“When you see these pictures, I mean, two brothers kissing, so not only do you have homosexuality, you have incest,”
“In this case, tax dollars are clearly involved, there’s no question tax dollars were involved,”
“I think they let the kinky push logic out of the way and they know that,”
“And that’s the kind of arrogance that drives people crazy about
“When we have 15 million Americans unemployed and a debt of $13.7 trillion, we have to be more responsible stewards of the tax dollars,”
“I think the whole NEA budget and the Smithsonian budget should be looked at,”
“This exhibition is a direct assault on Christianity and the timing – the Christmas season! – shows how offensive it is intended to be,” Bozell said in a statement about the exhibit. “This federally funded vulgarity by the Smithsonian Institution must come to an end immediately. How dare anyone use a federal facility – The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery no less – to exhibit such obscene materials.”
"We are also calling on Congress to launch a full investigation into the approval process of the Hide/Seek exhibit,” Bozell said.
While the video of the black ants swarming over Jesus was removed on Tuesday, one of the remaining images in the exhibit include a 1994 photograph (from a triptych) by Lyle Ashton Harris. The “Hide/Seek” catalog says that Harris created the piece in collaboration with his brother, Thomas Allen Harris.
“In this provocative center image, the brothers exchange a passionate kiss as Thomas presses a gun into Lyle’s chest--conjuring the original biblical story of Cain’s treachery toward his brother, Abel,” states the catalog description (p. 265) of the piece.
“The image transgresses many dualisms we use to structure society: male versus female, black versus white, ‘brotherly love’ versus homosexual desire,” reads the description. “And it raises provocative questions surrounding themes of domestic abuse between lovers, perceived violence among black men, and the dangers that come from engaging in an ‘illicit’ love--whether it be from disease, homophobia, or a lethal combination of the two.”
Another piece, “Charles Devouring Himself,” is a plate, used as a canvas/background, upon which an image of “Charles” eating himself is depicted with a paint made from nail polish and the cremated ashes of a man who had AIDS and committed suicide.
The catalog description (p. 256) for “Charles Devouring Himself” says the artist Jerome Caja “mixed his friend Charles’s ashes with nail polish to create this image of Charles ingesting his own body. (Charles committed suicide once his life with AIDS became unbearable and recovery was beyond hope.) One can hardly imagine a more gruesome inversion of Goya’s famous painting of Saturn devouring his son. This searing condemnation of
There is a photograph of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, as well as a photograph -- “Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter” -- expressing homosexual sadomasochism by Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989).
"In this playful inversion of the classic family photograph, leather-clad Brian Ridley sits in an ornate wingback chair, chained and shackled to his dominant, horsewhip-wielding partner, Lyle Heeter," says the National Portrait Gallery's description of this Mapplethorpe photo.
"Far from submissive, Ridley’s wide-legged stance, upright posture, and direct address to the camera indicate that he willingly acts out his chosen sadomasochistic role," says the description. "The machismo of the couple’s leather gear is undercut by the flamboyance of their living room--replete with an Oriental rug, pewter vases, sculpted lamp and clock, and grasscloth wall covering. That this homosexual S&M ritual takes place in the context of the couple’s 'normal' life (which also includes antique collecting) powerfully challenges what it meansto be a 'normal' or 'domestic' couple."
Also in place at the “Hide/Seek” exhibit is “The Pink Narcissus,” a video released in 1971 by James Bidgood (b. 1933). The National Portrait Gallery’s description for the video says, “The film is a surreal portrait of the youth’s emergence into gay life, his coming out symbolized by the metaphor of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly.”
The video was originally 71 minutes long, and has been edited down to 7 minutes for display in the museum, according to the description.