Nora Wildberg:

A Fire in My Belly (1986-1987)

A Film by David Wojnarowicz

This 20-minute silent film, shot on Super 8mm film, by David Wojnarowicz is extremely open to interpretation. The first part, 13 minutes long, is a series of disconnected clips, some candid shots of Mexico City abruptly split up by scenes shot in a studio setting. The second half is more disturbing than the first, rife with controversial political and religious imagery that some viewers have deemed as obscenely offensive. In 2010, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery received immense backlash from Catholics and politicians for exhibiting “A Fire in My Belly” due to claims of it being offensive to Christians. The clip of ants crawling on an image of a crucified and bloody Jesus is one of the most renowned, contentious scenes of the entire film, in addition to the quick progression of gruesome, death-inspired imagery, contrasting greatly from the first part of the film. Wojnarowicz died in 1992 from AIDS at the age of 37, permanently leaving this film behind as his personal commentary on a problematic, unstable world from his perspective as an openly gay man in the 1980s.