By Michael Kimmelman
For all the talk about one big, globalized art world, the trans-Atlantic gulf reasserted itself the other evening via a small but telling event. An overflow crowd of several hundred people, young and old, men and women, gay and straight, packed Starr Auditorium at the Tate Modern here to pay tribute to David Wojnarowicz, the artist and AIDS activist who died, at 37, from AIDS, in 1992.
Last week, on a visit to Los Angeles, the secretary of the Smithsonian, G. Wayne Clough, was still struggling to account for why he caved two months ago to Republican lawmakers and the leader of the Catholic League, a group that calls itself a defender of free speech. Mr. Clough told The Los Angeles Times that, among other things, fear of retaliatory budget cuts caused him to remove a video by Wojnarowicz from “Hide/Seek,” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, a show about same-sex themes in American portraiture.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, had declared an excerpt from the video, featuring ants crawling on a crucifix, “hate speech.”Keep reading...