A Fire in My Belly
Director: David Wojnarowicz
Music: Diamanda Galas
USA | 1986-87 | 13+7 min
A Fire in My Belly is a visceral meditation on cultural and individual identity, spirituality, and belief systems. On a trip to Mexico City Wojnarowicz shot 25 rolls of super-8 film, documenting scenes that embodied the violence of city life. A central image is that of a child exploited as a fire-breathing street performer, which resonates in the title of the film and Wojnarowicz’s own experience hustling on the streets at a young age. He later staged scenes in his New York City apartment to combine with this footage, collecting dreamlike images to illustrate thematic sections he planned for the film’s structure, outlined in a cutting script. Among these images is a dancing, gun-wielding marionette, coins dropping into a plate of blood, vibrantly colored loteria cards, and the now iconic self-portrait of the artist with his lips sewn shut.
A Fire in My Belly was never completed. What currently circulates and is preserved in the Fales Library Collection of NYU is a 13-minute version entitled A Fire in my Belly, A Work in Progress, and a 7-minute excerpt that possibly represents a chapter planned for the finished version.
Wojnarowicz died in 1992. In November 2010, after complaints of religious groups and conservative politicians over a scene with a crucifix covered in ants, an edited version of this short silent film shown at the National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC) was removed.
Full version (13+7 min)