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Thursday, March 2, 2017

David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly”

David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” is about personal identity, modern life, and spirituality. Wojnarowicz lived a marginalized life as a gay and HIV-positive man. His video project is filled with symbols of vulnerability under attack. These scenes include displaced bodies, slaughtered animals, and beggars. These scenes and symbols help to highlight his focus on marginalization and oppression. The movement of the film – never resting too long on an image – becomes an expression of the speed and aggression of modern living. The scene of ants swarming the crucifix is an interesting point of analysis to focus on. The ants reflect the fast-paced and quick moving character of the entire film. The fast-moving ants might represent people. And here, they swarm quickly and directionless over an emblem of suffering and self-sacrifice. This piece is a provocative look at poverty and the effects of post-colonial and neocolonial capitalism. Wojnarowicz peppers in images of himself, specifically images of himself with sewn together lips, into images depicting poverty and different rituals in Mexico. This might have been done to work across a transnational different and depict the silence that both main characters of the film – Mexico and himself – feel in the modern world. This may hold a point of contention and issue, as Wojnarowicz seems to capture Mexico through a very specific context, one which he may have been seeking out for the purposes of his work, working through confirmation bias. I’m interested to learn more about his choice to capture poverty in Mexico and not in his own community in the US. The tokenizing and monolithic treatment of Mexico is a potentially problematic source in this movie.

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