Artists and free speech activists gathered on Sunday in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to support the work of artist David Wojnarowicz. His four-minute video, which included a sequence where ants crawl over a statue of Jesus, was part of the National Portrait Gallery's exhibit “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” until it was pulled after complaints from Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the incoming speaker and majority leader of the House.
Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said in a statement: "American families have a right to expect better from recipients of taxpayer funds in a tough economy."
Martin Smith, director of the National Portrait Gallery, bowed to the political pressure while defending the piece's artistic merit: “I regret that some reports about the exhibit have created an impression that the video is intentionally sacrilegious. In fact, the artist’s intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim. It was not the museum’s intention to offend.”