Personally I agree with Christopher Knight of the LA Times.
The four-minute video excerpt at the National Portrait Gallery, part of the large exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” includes four brief shots of ants crawling over a small crucifix, which has what appears to be actual blood flowing from the wound in Christ’s side. These images, which last less than 15 seconds, are what some claim to be anti-Christian.
Objectively speaking, an artist bent on making an anti-Christian diatribe would not spend just 15 seconds of a 13-minute video making it. Those images instead serve another function: To rebuke the same self-righteous moralism of those who are attacking the Smithsonian now.
Ants and bugs are an age-old artistic symbol that laments the frailty of human beings and earthly existence. As Ecclesiastes puts it: Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas -- “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Ant-covered flora, bodies and animals turn up in everything from still life paintings in the largely Protestant 17th-century Netherlands to the silent Surrealist film, “An Andalusian Dog” (1929) by the Spanish director Luis Bunuel and artist Salvador Dali, a conservative Catholic.
In the Wojnarowicz video, the vanitas theme plays out on a crucifix not as a religious slur, but as a lament for earthly failures among those who should know better at a time of epic tragedy. Small wonder that some who failed then take offense at being reminded of it now.
I am reminded as well of Jesus in Scorcese's Last Temptation of Christ.
When I see an ant, when I look at his shiny black eye, you know what I see? I see the face of God.