National Portrait Gallery Will Keep “Felix, June 5, 1994” by AA Bronson in “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture”
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will continue to display AA Bronson’s work “Felix, June 5, 1994” in its exhibition, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” through the show’s scheduled closing Feb. 13, 2011.
Bronson recently requested the portrait’s removal in protest over the deletion of a video segment by David Wojnarowicz titled “A Fire in My Belly.”
Martin Sullivan, director of the Portrait Gallery, and curators David C. Ward and Jonathan Katz carefully considered Bronson’s request. They also considered concerns expressed by supporters of “Hide/Seek” that the theme and impact of the overall exhibition would suffer significantly if the work were removed. Sullivan consulted with the National Gallery of Canada, which owns the work and loaned it to the Portrait Gallery for the exhibition.
“I have great empathy toward AA Bronson and his request,” said Sullivan. “However, we want visitors to the National Portrait Gallery to experience the exhibition without further alteration. Mr. Bronson’s photograph is a brilliant and sobering meditation on the human tragedy of AIDS and the power of portraiture.”
The Portrait Gallery has invited Bronson to make a formal statement of his views, which would be installed next to his work for visitors to see, together with other public comments. The museum’s online audience is also invited to comment on its blog: face2face.si.edu.
Bronson has been invited to be a speaker at a symposium on “Hide/Seek” at the Portrait Gallery scheduled for Jan. 29, 2011; details of the symposium’s schedule will be announced at a later time.
Bronson’s wall-size color portrait shows the body of his partner, Felix Partz, a few hours after he died of complications from AIDS.
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