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Centerpoints: Wojnarowicz redux?

A year after the controversial removal of a video by the late David Wojnarowicz from the National Portrait Gallery show HIDE/SEEK, the exhibition is set to open in Brooklyn, and some religious groups are again calling for the censure of the piece, which includes brief footage of ants crawling on a crucifix. This and more, inside.

• A year after the controversial removal of the late David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly from a National Portrait Gallery show on the role of sexual identity in modern art, religious groups are renewing efforts to censor the work. The offending show, HIDE/SEEK, is set to open at the Brooklyn Museum of Art next week, and some are calling for the work — which includes a short bit of footage showing ants crawling on a crucifix — to be removed. But the museum doesn’t seem likely to budge. Director Arnold Lehman said the show will go on as intended by its curators, and he defended the entire presentation: “For a city that prides itself on diversity and creativity, there couldn’t be a better exhibition.” Here’s the entire work, which the Walker screened last year.

• Famed choreographer Yvonne Rainer is no fan of the performance Marina Abramović has planned for LA MoCA’s annual gala this weekend. In a letter to museum director Jeffrey Deitch, Rainer wrote, “It has come to my attention that a number of young people will be ensconced under the diners’ tables on lazy Susans and also be required to display their nude bodies under fake skeletons.” Calling the performance a “grotesque spectacle” and a “degrading” form of fundraising, she writes:

Subjecting her performers to public humiliation at the hands of a bunch of frolicking donors is yet another example of the Museum’s callousness and greed and Ms Abramovic’s obliviousness to differences in context and to some of the implications of transposing her own powerful performances to the bodies of others. An exhibition is one thing — this is not a critique of Abramovic’s work in general — but titillation for wealthy diners as a means of raising money is another.

• Five “portable murals” by Diego Rivera will be reunited for this weekend’s opening of a solo show by the late Mexican artist at MoMA. The works are “large blocks of frescoed plaster, slaked lime, and wood that feature bold images drawn from Mexican subject matter and address themes of revolution and class inequity.” While that theme is particularly fitting today, the presentation is historic as well: It reunites many of the works from a 1931 solo show, MoMA’s second ever monographic exhibition.

Brian Ulrichinterviewed here in conjunction with the 2008 Walker exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes — is featured on The Guardian today for his new book Is This Place Great or What, which compiles photos from his eight-year documentation of American consumer culture. Also, on Monday, he was featured in the paper’s The Big Ideas podcast, discussing his project as it relates to Ernst Fritz Schumacher’s notion of “Buddhist economics.”

• Closed for two months, the New York Historical Society reopens today with new facilities, including a children’s history museum and a new restaurant. Another feature getting attention: Keith Haring’s 1986 work Doodle, which was once part of the now-closed Pop Shop, now hangs above the society’s admissions desk.

• Occupy Wall Street’s Arts & Culture Committee is asking sculptor Mark di Suvero for help in getting barricades removed from around his work Joie de Vivre in Zuccotti Park. “We believe that cordoning off your gift to the people of New York goes against your intentions for the work, as well as the very spirit of public art,” the committee wrote in a letter. “‘Joie de Vivre’ is especially poignant as this movement actively fights to empower people of marginalized economic status. Indeed, that struggle is the joy of life.”

• The inaugural Modern Art Notes podcast is up and features an interview with artist Chris Burden on, among other topics, the role of risk-taking in art.

• The New York Times takes note of artist Pedro Reyes’ trip — with his puppet versions of Karl Marx and Adam Smith — to Occupy Wall Street.

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