If you walk around the space you will notice two films playing, both of these films have their own stories of cancellation. They have both been removed from public view and were returned to the public eye by those who were passionate about artist’s work.
Tonight, Wednesday May 23rd at 6:30 PM these two videos along with two others will be presented in a discussion with Lauren the curator.
Lauren Van Haaften-Schick writes in the catalog essay that accompanies the exhibition (that you can purchase at the center’s bookshop):
“Filmed at the artist’s New York loft and in Mexico City shortly after a major earthquake there in 1985, A Fire in My Belly addresses themes of suffering, sexuality, death and spirituality in American and Mexican culture. Images of destruction, violence and poverty such as corpses and beggars are juxtaposed with scenes of pageantry and celebration. This street footage is interspersed among male homoerotic imagery including frontal nudity and a man masturbating, and explicit religious references as the cutting and sewing a loaf of bread, the artist sewing his own lips shut, and, most famously, a small crucifix covered in swarming ants.”
A Fire in My Belly was targeted by Catholic League president William Donahue, who claimed the work was “a hate speech pure and simple” particularly because the film contained religious imagery, including a shot of ants walking over a crucifix. The estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W. gallery wrote that the statement of the Catholic League president insults the legacy of Wojnarowicz.
After David Wojnarowicz died from AIDS complications in 1992 his estate and P.P.O.W gallery worked to have the film shown at numerous art institutions that displayed the film in protest.
The disappearance of Bas Jan Ader drove Marion van Wijk and Koos Dalstra to create a book In Search of the Miraculous Bas Jan Ader: Discovery File 143/76. It has every piece of information surrounding the police case, including interviews that the artists conducted themselves. “While this extensive volume holds all the known facts of the case, its story remains unfinished.”
The mystery surrounding Ader’s disappearance created a kind of cult of Ader and there was a great deal of enthusiasm when a previously unseen work was discovered and made public on youtube. “The caption for the posted video said that the work was recovered from Bas Jan Ader’s former locker at UC Irvine, where the artist used to teach. It is believed, the description continues, that ‘this work was disregarded by the artist because the film runs out just as he enters the ocean.'”
The original youtube video was flagged and removed, but reappeared, you can watch it above. You can also hold it in your hands, a flip book version of the video is a part of the exhibition. “The flipbook, Rarely Seen Bas Jan Ader Film, is a frame-by-frame recreation of Horvitz’s film. Meant to be ‘read’ in motion, the book is a tangible memento while persistently fleeting and ephemeral.” David Horvitz’s flipbook “tempts the possibility of new and undiscovered material, advancing the mystery with an homage as farewell, and with the optimistic position that the work and its producer are truly never finished.”
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