Discover

Why David Wojnarowicz Matters By Dan Cameron

David Wojnarowicz is one of the indispensable American artists of the end of the 20th century. Through his paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, writings, performances and music, Wojnarowicz opened up art’s expressive capability at an moment in history when it was viewed by too many as a sophisticated game of style and technique. In Wojnarowicz’s hands, by contrast, art was never less than a matter of life and death.

Born to working-class Catholic, Polish-American roots, Wojnarowicz had very little by way of formal art training in art, but was instead mentored by individuals along the way. As a young man, he was sexually and physically abused, and throughout his short life suffered deeply because he never concealed his sexual identity. As a result, the recurring problem of homophobia, both societal and individual, became one of the main motifs of his work. During the last years of his life – he died in 1992 of complications from AIDS at the age of 38 –, his one-man battle against fear and hatred of gay people burned with an intensity that is rarely witnessed in the contemporary art community.

In 1999, I was the curator of one of only two retrospectives of David Wojnarowicz’s art in this country, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC. While the exhibition was well attended and positively reviewed at the time, I can honestly say that it is also one of the few exhibitions that have grown larger in the collective memory of the international art community. Wherever I travel in the world, no matter the purpose of my visit, I invariably encounter students, artists and curators who want to ask me about Wojnarowicz and his art. Not infrequently, it turns out they have never seen his work in person, but only in publications like the New Museum catalog or David’s own books of prose and poetry. Still, his art has touched them at the deepest level imaginable, bringing me to understand that, unlike most of his peers, the art of David Wojnarowicz continues to grow in importance.

The censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s work from the National Portrait Gallery is an act of unspeakable aggression against artists, writers, intellectuals, people affected by AIDS, and especially the entire LGBTQ community in this country and throughout the world. Right-wing politicians and religious leaders, sensing weakness on the part of our nation’s cultural community, have described Wojnarowicz’s video in deeply hypocritical terms, even going so far as to describe it as ‘hate speech.’ This Orwellian use of language to defame an artist who himself was the victim of hatred against gay people shows that the stakes in this battle are much higher than might be imagined.

The extreme right’s attack on this most vital of American artists must not be allowed to stand, if only because it is transparently clear they have no intention of stopping with Wojnarowicz. If we sit by and let this censorship occur without protest, the forces of censorship and homophobia will grow bolder and more aggressive in their attacks on artistic freedom in this country. Perhaps they believe that, because he was gay and died of AIDS, Wojnarowicz is vulnerable. It is up to us to prove that, on the contrary, when they picked on David, they drastically underestimated his importance to those of us in this country, and in the rest of the world, who don’t condemn what our most important artists have produced — we honor it by proudly showing it in our museums.

Dan Cameron
December 5, 2010
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612442471

Recent Posts

The character will not be the only one who modifies his image in the new of ‘The Avengers’ Besides being one of Marvel’s funniest films, Watch Thor Ragnarok Full movie online ‘ is a film that contains some key data for the evolution of the MCU’s cosmic plot, already launched towards the imminent confrontation with Thanos in ‘Infinity War ‘ . And is that in addition to the return of the Hulk, the new adventure of… [read more »]

A Conversation about Ergonomic Futures

Lafayette Anticipation associate curator Anna Colin talks to artist Tyler Coburn about Ergonomic Futures, a speculative project engaged with art, design, science, anthropology and writing. In this interview, Coburn discusses the research, production process and network of collaborators of a multilayered project ultimately concerned with the futures of humankind. Anna Colin: When one comes across your museum seats Ergonomic Futures (2016—) in contemporary art exhibitions—and soon in natural history, fine art, and anthropology museums—they look… [read more »]

nils lange + saliva : l’eau des algues

L’Eau des Algues Two alchemists already aware of each other’s Instagrams meet for the first time in a gay sauna. They are swimming; it’s the Hood By Air afterparty in Paris. They are Lukas Hofmann and Nils Amadeus Lange. Months later, they meet again. They are on the edge of yet another steaming pool; it’s the Manifesta Biennale closing event at Cabaret Voltaire. They are performing the perfume titled “L’eau des Algues.” Head notes: Zürich… [read more »]

Toward a Low Key Voting System Where Votes Are Actually Considered | Adrian Massey

While reading A Very Short Introduction to Game Theory, I came across the following passage, “If you want people to vote, we need to move to a more decentralized system in which every vote really does count enough to outweigh the lack of enthusiasm for voting which so many people obviously feel…Simply repeating the slogan that ‘every vote counts’ isn’t ever going to work, because it isn’t true.” I was jarred. For me, anecdotally knowing… [read more »]

Tough Luck | Tyler Reinhard

When life is being super unfair, just do what we all do: suffer the consequences. I wake up and the first thing I do is check my phone. A convenient euphemism for using Facebook’s machine learning techniques to discover which 300 entries are statistically most likely to stand out from the tens of thousands of brain dumps my friends and family have produced over the last 48 hours. Impressed by what Facebook provides, I think… [read more »]

America Is Hard to See: A Guide to not being depressed about US electoral politics this November

In order to make sense of state politics in the birthplace of statistical marketing and the internet, one has to be wary of the effects of these technologies on the country’s popular media. In a time when our news and advertisements are tailored to our pre-recorded political opinions, it can be especially difficult to empathize with differing political views. Likewise, learning about the histories of state politics is not encouraged by platforms that profit from… [read more »]

On self-care and the election | Eva Saelens

We can get together and laugh about it. We can heave sighs and express disbelief, but it’s never enough. This presidential election year has lasted for years, and they sit on citizens like a slick film. We feel touched by an unshakable germ, invaded by a blood-sucker, afflicted by a social cancer, drained of the plump vitality of life and the amazing liberty of choices, and transformed into a cynical, depressed shrivel. After being touched… [read more »]

Swarovski Crystal Meth at National Sawdust

Swarovski Crystal Meth, a collaboration between Ser Serpas, Daniela Czenstochowski and Gia Garrison for the National Sawdust “Selkie Series” performances, curated by Alexandra Marzella. Music composed and produced by Daniela Czenstochowski Poem by Sera Serpas Sound Edit Mateo Majluf Vocals Sera Serpas, Gia Garrison and Daniela Czenstochowski All Images Olimpia Dior i went to the desert con mi mama outlet store shopping is fried onto mi conciensa, big bags, wins bigger losses fragmented lux economy… [read more »]

Hasbeens and Willbees Auction @ Romeo Gallery

Shop items from the most recent Hasbeens and Willbees luxury auction now! Featuring Bjarne Melgaard, Bror August, Women’s History Museum, Lou Dallas, Hermes, Gautier, and more. All photography Dillon Sachs Styling Avena Gallagher Hosted by Rome Gallery NYC

NHU DUONG SS17 WORK COLLECTION FT. KARL HOLMQVIST

What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]