Wojnarowicz courted controversy and was the subject of similar vitriol when he was alive. He reportedly made the film in part as a response to the death of his friend and former lover Peter Hujar from AIDS, and his own diagnosis with HIV. It collages together snippets of a street performer breathing fire; a cockfight; Mexican wrestling; a bullfight; hands stitching a broken loaf of bread back together; a man's mouth literally sewn closed; an actor playing an exhausted Christ in a crown of thorns; a man stripping off his clothes and masturbating; and the ants on the crucifix.

It's an interesting but not great surrealist film that taps Catholic art's long tradition of gruesome imagery (see Grünewald, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ) and using Biblical stories as analogies for contemporary issues (Joan of Arc). It references homosexuality and death, but it's a howl, not an argument. So when you finally see the film, you might find yourself thinking: "That's what all the fuss is about?" But that fuss is a serious shot across the bow from the new Republican Congression-al majority that progressive values in the art world — and America generally — are under attack.

Read Greg Cook's blog at, where this week you can vote on the New England Art Awards.

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