Jack Kingston wants investigation of ants-on-Jesus display

The D.C. arts community is slowly coming to grips with the new order of things in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, who just happens to be making his case to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was on Fox News this morning, calling for an investigation into a decision by the National Portrait Gallery to exhibit a work of video art that depicts a small statute of a crucified Jesus with ants crawling over the figure.

The exhibit was removed Tuesday. Here’s Kingston:

Said Kingston:

“This is a museum that gets $5.8 million in taxpayer dollars and in the middle of a high deficit, 15 million unemployed Americans, they decide to have money to spend like this…..This is a museum that, by the way, has next to it a display of the American presidents, on the other side, Elvis, and then you go through this – which is really perverted sick stuff – ashes of an AIDS victim, in a self-portrait, eating himself. Male nudity, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her own breast – lots of really kinky and really questionable kind of art art….

And right next to Elvis, too. Disgusting. Kingston continues:

“They claim that this is not paid for by tax dollars, yet this is a public building with a publicly paid staff, public heat and air-conditioning, if you will, public security. So there’s no question the taxpayers are subsidizing this. It’s no different than the Pentagon going out and paying $500 for a hammer….”

The Washington Post has this brief clip of the removed – and unquestionably strange — exhibit, along with the following:

Officials at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday removed a work of video art depicting Christ with ants crawling over him after complaints from a Catholic organization and members of Congress.

The four-minute video, created by the late artist David Wojnarowicz, had been on exhibit since Oct. 30 as part of a show on sexual difference in American portraiture.

The piece was called “hate speech” by Catholic League president William Donohue and a misuse of taxpayer money by a spokesman for Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive incoming House speaker.

Officials at the museum and the Smithsonian Institution, which includes the Portrait Gallery, said they had not intended to be offensive by showing the work and removed it to better focus on the exhibit’s strengths.

“The decision wasn’t caving in,” said Martin E. Sullivan, the museum’s director. “We don’t want to shy away from anything that is controversial, but we want to focus on the museum’s and this show’s strengths.”

An 11-second portion of the video shows a small crucifix covered with ants. The video is included in the exhibit, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.”

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

66 comments Add your comment

Dacula voter

December 1st, 2010
12:06 pm

If it was Muhammad depicted, riots would already be taking place in the streets.

pn

December 1st, 2010
12:11 pm

Time to decide which books to burn.
Rupert Murdoch will become the final arbiter of all things tasteful & acceptable in American society.
Jack Kingston makes a good handmaiden.

Typical politician

December 1st, 2010
12:18 pm

Maybe if this and other GEORGIA reps spent more time concerned with… I dont know… JOBS AND ECONOMY, Georgia wouldn’t have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Good job GOP, waste your time on worthless topics…

about time

December 1st, 2010
12:20 pm

Do you really want Jack Kingston deciding what is art? I hope not.

Retired Soldier

December 1st, 2010
12:21 pm

pn-

If you think this type of “art” is acceptable for the use of our tax dollars I feel for you. If someone wants to do this junk on their own dime, then in America it’s acceptable. Not a penny of tax money should promote this in any way.

pn

December 1st, 2010
12:21 pm

Also, has Kingston had a good look at commercial broadcasting lately? There are things on TV now during prime time that are positively loathsome and grotesque. Cartoons miming sexual acts on at 8 pm on FOX network “cartoons.” Where’s the outrage?

Censor Dog

December 1st, 2010
12:22 pm

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Retired Soldier

December 1st, 2010
12:22 pm

Let’s get the government completly out of the “art” business and we won’t have to worry about what is or isn’t art.

Capitol Avenue Cal

December 1st, 2010
12:23 pm

It’s okay to depict Christian symbols this way; hadn’t you heard? Where’s your sense of liberality?

double

December 1st, 2010
12:26 pm

Mr Kingston,and Mr Boehner should weed out all these worthless projects,both here and foreign.Extend benefits to jobless.

Base

December 1st, 2010
12:29 pm

Did he vote for HD tv boondoggle what a bunch of trash!

DallasGatr

December 1st, 2010
12:34 pm

“And right next to Elvis, too. Disgusting. ” Pretty much shows the snarky condescending view of the author of this piece too. I think some are missing the point – I worked for the money the governament seized under threat of jail to give to some wretch pay for this garbage, and I don’t like it. They’re free to do it, in fact I’d fight for their right to do it, but damned if I’ll fund it without complaining.

DannyX

December 1st, 2010
12:34 pm

I guess you have to be politically correct in today’s environment.

The Religiously Correct police are now on the look out.

Watch out Purple Tellytubby! They are coming after you next?
“Merry X-Mas? Happy Holidays?” Don’t you dare!!!!!!!!

Censor Dog

December 1st, 2010
12:34 pm

Every government overthrow in history has started by exiling or killing the artists of the existing culture first.

Ostrich Racer

December 1st, 2010
12:42 pm

@Censor Dog — I don’t remember reading anything about Thomas Jefferson, et al. exiling or killing any artists.

Censor Dog

December 1st, 2010
12:46 pm

Try Chinese Dynasty forward.

TJ et al was a revolution not an overthrow

Censor Dog

December 1st, 2010
12:47 pm

Sorry – Dynasties

pn

December 1st, 2010
12:54 pm

India and China are eating our lunch because Republican and most Democrat pols waste time, effort and public discourse on trivial and absurd issues and ignore the important ones. Has Kingston noticed that the unemployment rate in GA is still !0%? That we are still sending a huge portion of our GDP to oil-producing countries who hate us and who use our money to develop WMD’s? That public education, which has been the bedrock of the evolution of the American middle class, is being undermined and destroyed by their own ignorant efforts?

Bubba

December 1st, 2010
1:02 pm

Hows that Hope and Change coming along? blahahahahahahah. You Libs are hilarious

Jesse Jackson

December 1st, 2010
1:06 pm

Lets propicate and faciltate the concept of artistic transcept of the slight of the white . what was i saying?

Alabama Communist

December 1st, 2010
1:17 pm

More Breaking news on Jack slamming Jesus Bashers!!!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile a group of non-believers struck back at Jack by replacing the Jesus display with a picture of Jack in the nude having crickets chiping at his private parts………..

Conservative

December 1st, 2010
1:19 pm

Dacula Voter, totally see your point. Are Christians not making enough ruckus in this country that sacred religious symbols are being misused?

“Art” can be funded privately, it that is the type of thing they want to display. Tax payer dollars used for salaries, security, maintenance, grant, loans, etc. should not be wasted on this stuff.

Enough with offending everybody else’s religion, and everybody else’s rights! When will the rights of the Christian conservative be considered?

Crunk D

December 1st, 2010
1:25 pm

Why is government in the art business anyway?

DannyX

December 1st, 2010
1:33 pm

“Hows that Hope and Change coming along?”

Well? How is it going Bubba? 8 years of republican rule!

Sonny land deals, Sonny tax specials, Sonny loans, Sonny Ports Authority business. Sonny road widening. Richardson Lobbyists, Cagle exile, Oxendine ethics, State of Georgia $300 annual property tax hike, DOT as in DISASTER, Georgia Power give-a-ways, bank failures, education failures, Schrenko’s facelift, water woes, budget woes and “pray for rain.”

Lets not forget this gem….Ex Democrat-career politician-ethically challenged-bankrupt-big spending-excongressman- Nathan Deal is the Governor-elect in Georgia. His team is now teeming with insiders and lobbyists! “We the People.” Ya, right.

Now lets divert the easily led to the big bad liberals attacking Republican idols with ants.

Or even more important a socialist/college football diversion, which of course plays big here. My bet is Sonny will fire Richt this week which will allow Sonny to fulfill his life long dream. Sonny will also announce that he has given himself a five year 100 million dollar contract and will take over the head coach duties at UGA in January.

DannyX

December 1st, 2010
1:45 pm

“Why is government in the football business anyway?

The football players don’t represent my values. Football players do a lot of bad things. Read your sports page lately? Much worse than ants.

The socialist nature of socialist/college football should be left to the free market pros.

pn

December 1st, 2010
1:49 pm

Do you really think Jesus would give a flying flip if his image was used to portray the human suffering of a person with AIDS? I think Jesus would be out comforting and healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and performing other “progressive acts” of kindness. If he lived today Rupert Murdoch and FOX News would probably consider him a major threat to their conservative values.

Keith

December 1st, 2010
1:54 pm

No government should ever be involved in spending one cent of tax dollars for art. Let the private markets decide what is good art and what is not.

pn

December 1st, 2010
2:06 pm

I agree with DannyX. No taxpayer money for college football.
Government should not subsidize sports.
And no broadcasting by for-profit companies over the public airwaves. I don’t want to watch nasty pornographic cartoons on TV.

Open Minded

December 1st, 2010
2:06 pm

What right does the Government have to spend the widow’s mite, even borrowed money from future gerations on so called “Art” ?
We need to get back to basics and basics are not PBS, Art Museums and other frivolous non essentials,,, hey folks, we are in a financial crisis… wake-up!

Retired Soldier

December 1st, 2010
2:22 pm

Well said open minded

DannyX

December 1st, 2010
2:42 pm

Government Motors just announced a big increase in sales Last week Government Motors announced they were adding 1000 high paying jobs in Detroit.

Maybe we can get Sonny to pick the head of Government Motors to be our next Government Bulldogs head football coach.

Go Socialists. Sic’em, woofwoofwoof

Burp Bacharach

December 1st, 2010
3:03 pm

Feliz Navidad & Happy Holy Days!

redneck

December 1st, 2010
3:31 pm

but im an artist man, i make your world more beutiful.

Nope

December 1st, 2010
3:35 pm

Yup. This is exactly why we voted the Republicans back into power. Forget the economy. Forget the bazillion dollar war in Afghanistan. Forget the crumbing infrastructure. Forget tens of millions of unemployed Americans losing their last vestige of support. THIS is what is important.

rooster

December 1st, 2010
3:43 pm

This is exactly the kind of stuff that makes folks question public funding for the arts. People with real talent don’t get funding while snot-nosed no-talent brats are fawned over by rhe brie-and-chablis crowd. Since it’s the concept that’s (theoretically) interesting, rather than the execution, just write the concept on an index card and save museum space for actual artistic talent. Next time you see a monochromatic canvas or an yellow icebag the size of a VW or a piss-Christ or any of a number of childish “ideas” made manifest, ask yourself this question: “If the artist had screwed this up, how could we tell?” If you can’t come up with a sensible answer, then it is not art. And if its producer is an artist then the woods are full of ‘em. Oh, and spare us the whining about censorship. No one denies the right to produce self-indulgent visual drivel. But declining to buy it or subsidize it in no way constitutes censorship.

Douglas

December 1st, 2010
3:49 pm

Danny X, whom do you think is paying for the damn stadiums that the pros are using? It ain’t private enterprise, I can tell you THAT!

Eloise

December 1st, 2010
4:06 pm

What happened to freedom of expression, of a right to free speech? There is a lot of art I don’t like but it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be created or displayed. In fact, how are we to create an opinion of what we like and don’t like if we aren’t exposed to a wide variety of artistic expression.

The government supports the arts because it contributes to a better educated, more well-rounded citizenry. Would we want to live in a country that allows only a chosen few to decide what we can and cannot like. I thought that is what our young men and women oversees were fighting to defend, the right to create what we want to create and display without persecution from the government.

I will defend your right to carry a gun or worship how you want if you will allow me to paint whatever I want to.

Troglodyke

December 1st, 2010
4:08 pm

When will the rights of the Christian conservative be considered?

Oh. My. Word.

Are you serious?

Are you actually going to perpetuate the bold-faced LIE that conservative Xtians are persecuted? In America, the most overtly Xtian country in the Universe?

Xtians are a VAST majority, with BILLIONS of influential dollars in politics and beyond. It’s staggering. You have churches on every corner, the right to pray ANYWHERE you want (yes, even in schools and on government property–stop listening to talk radio blather and read the Constitution), millions of people who believe as you do (well, except that you actually can’t all agree on the tenets of your faith, but that’s an absurdity best illuminated in another post), museums celebrating Creationism as if it was a scientific fact, religious displays on our currency and on public property, and a host of other “perks” that are either guaranteed to you by our Deist Founding Fathers, or at the very least go unchallenged by the nonbelieving minority.

But yet, when nonbelievers (a minority) DARE to put up a few billboards, or publish a few books, or mock your precious, unverifiable beliefs, you take umbrage of the highest magnitude. You have all the power, and we only have the Constitution, which still gives you a lot of power.

If your religious beliefs can’t hold up to a little scrutiny, maybe you should abandon them. There is absolutely no reason why religious belief should be off-limits to criticism, or even mockery. And really, why should you care? Is your god a cry-baby? No? Then why are you?

How come no one really makes a fuss over public money being used for art until the art is deemed blasphemous?

David

December 1st, 2010
4:08 pm

Many of the people defending, the “art” and attacking anyone with poor examples, my favorite is the book burning reference has missed the point. If this was a private gallery, with private funds, while offensive to many, probably a majority they would still be allowed to show it and we would be allowed to protest it, and I would tell congress to get out of it. However we are talking about a taxpayer funded gallery and a piece of art that is offensive to a large group of people. I would feel the same way if it was offensive to Muslims, Jews, or Pagan worshipers as well. When tax payer money is involved it is best to be prudent. There is legitimate art that people may find offensive too, and could still be displayed, I am not saying there is a set line, but the majority of people know when a line is crossed.

Jeb

December 1st, 2010
4:12 pm

If it was Mohammed, I doubt the idiot politician would care. We need government out of telling us how to think, unless of course it involves a stupid piece of art depicting Jesus. Nothing like the hypocrite born again repubs.

lANDRO

December 1st, 2010
4:13 pm

Jack represents 3rd world south GA, what else would you expect.

David

December 1st, 2010
4:15 pm

Eloise – the difference is that I am not asking you to buy me a gun or build my church. I don’t really care what you paint and I don’t care if you show it to others. I do care if you insist that I pay for it. If the market accepts your work, fantastic and more power too you. However if the market rejects your work it is a shallow arguement to say that the tax payers should fund it because it makes everyone better in the long run :)

Retired Soldier

December 1st, 2010
4:16 pm

Eloise-

My right as a taxpayer is to have a say thru my representatives on how my tax dollars are spent. I do not want to stop anyone’s “art”. I do favor an end to using my tax dollars for it. Go and make anything you want, just don’t expect me to help pay for it.

joe

December 1st, 2010
4:22 pm

Betcha your next unemployment check that Martin E. Sullivan doesn’t believe in God.

Motocross Survivor

December 1st, 2010
4:26 pm

The usual TV zombiefied idiots pipe in with their “what if it were Mohammad yadda yadda..” Muslims are demonized daily in the mainstream media in America. The Jews are the super-protected ones. I say what if it were some Jewish icon (Moses or Abraham) covered with ants? Christ is an easy target, hated by Jews and atheists alike. This bit of anti-Christian hate speech was created by the Jewish David Wojnarowicz.

RGB

December 1st, 2010
4:27 pm

DallasGatr – great comments including those written about the snarky attitude of the “columnist”.

Regarding free speech rights, speak freely all you want but don’t make taxpayers pay for it. Where in the Constitution does it say that taxpayers must subsidize a person’s free speech?

Miz Trog…dyke, you certainly are exercising your free speech rights–of blaspheming the Lord Jesus Christ, but you should know that your speech is in no sense free as one day the price you pay for your blasphemy will require the ultimate payment.

Regarding our “deist founding fathers”, of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 29 had seminary degrees. The DoI is the foundation of our government. It is our foundational document. American Exceptionalism exists because our Founders were able to establish this country on a foundation that includes strong Biblical principles. Ours is not a Godless Constitution. Jefferson and Franklin we all recognize and they are secular, but at least 29/56 were godly men.

John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Washington’s boss in the Revolution wrote: “I entreat you in the most earnest manner to believe in Jesus Christ, for there is no salvation in any other.” (Acts 4:12) “If you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ—if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness—you must forever perish.”

You would be wise to consider Witherspoon’s advice.

DannyX

December 1st, 2010
4:28 pm

I didn’t like Bristol Palin strutting her stuff on our precious public airwaves.

If you want to prance around in sexy leotards, celebrating the fact that you are an unmarried sinful single mother do it on cable, not the public airwaves. Millions of little girls now think this sexy dance is art. They now worship single under-age parenthood. Its terrible.

Cynthia McKinney Tucker

December 1st, 2010
4:32 pm

“Art” should not be funded / subsidized by the government any more than freakin NPR.

DO NOT USE MY TAX DOLLARS FUNDING THIS CRAP!

Cynthia McKinney Tucker

December 1st, 2010
4:33 pm

DannyX – agree but at least we are not funding DWTS with our tax dollars!!!

Georgia native

December 1st, 2010
4:34 pm

You people don’t get it. He’s opposed to tax payers paying for this. If art can’t support itself in these hard times then it should go broke!