Work in Progress
The National Portrait Gallery's queer endeavor
Difference and Desire in American Portraiture
by Jonathan D. Katz and David C. Ward
$45.00 List Price
By yanking David Wojnarowicz's film A Fire in My Belly (1986–87) from the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition "Hide/Seek," Smithsonian secretary G. Wayne Clough gifted to art history a splendid case study in cowardice, censorship, and institutional failure. Far from undermining the exhibition (which closed last February), moreover, Clough's capitulation to the grumblings of the Catholic League managed to validate beyond all expectations the relevance of the show's conceit. The Wojnarowicz Affair performed the very premise advanced by curators Jonathan Katz and David C. Ward: a story of queer portraiture told through a dialectical account of absence/presence, shame/pride, closeted/out, hidden/revealed.
"Hide/Seek" was marked by elisions from its inception. The title itself points to a work missing from the
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