David Wojnarowicz Event

A David Wojnarowicz event to be hosted by the Paul Robeson Gallery is scheduled for the week of February 17th. David Wojnarowicz was a New York City-based mixed-media artist and writer whose work took on a sharp political edge in the late 80s after he was diagnosed with HIV and became involved with AIDS activism.[1]

Although Wojnarowicz died of an AIDS-related illness in 1992, the controversy his art has generated lives on. The most notable and recent example is the contention surrounding the Smithsonian Institution’s decision in December of 2010 to censor an edited DVD version of Wojnarowicz’s film A Fire in My Belly from its exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.”[2]  The “Hide/Seek” exhibition was notably the first major museum show in the U.S. devoted to homosexuality. The Smithsonian was pressured to censor Wojnarowicz’s film by The Catholic League and conservative U.S. congressional representatives who objected to an 11-second sequence in the film in which ants crawled over a crucifix. The resulting scandal about the film’s alleged attack on Christianity was amplified by the internet, which made it easier for protest campaigns against the films to be organized.[3] 

The scandal and internet technology together had the effect of giving Wojnarowicz’s work a wider distribution than it had ever had before as A Fire in My Belly was uploaded on YouTube and circulated widely.[4] Click the links to watch A Fire in My Belly or In The Shadow Of Forward Motiona film Wojnarowicz made with composer Ben Neill in 1989 that included footage from A Fire in My Belly. Also, this Washington Post article provides a contemporary perspective on the 2010 controversy. Click the following link for Wojnarowicz’s writings connected with his AIDS activism. VisualAIDS.org also provides further biographical information about Wojnarowicz and a sample of his visual art.

Stay tuned for more information about the February Wojnarowicz event at Rutgers University-Newark in the coming days and weeks!

[1] Richard Meyer, Outlaw Representation: Censorship & Homosexuality in Twentieth-century American Art (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), 28.; “David Wojnarowicz.” Visual AIDS. Accessed February 01, 2015. https://www.visualaids.org/artists/detail/david-wojnarowicz.

[2] Catherine Lord, “Inside the Body Politic: 1980–present,” in Art & Queer Culture, by Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer (New York: Phaidon Press, 2013), 43-44.

[3] Catherine Lord, “Inside the Body Politic: 1980–present,” in Art & Queer Culture, by Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer (New York: Phaidon Press, 2013), 44.

[4] Catherine Lord, “Inside the Body Politic: 1980–present,” in Art & Queer Culture, by Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer (New York: Phaidon Press, 2013), 44.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s