History Keeps Me Awake at Night A Genealogy of David Wojnarowicz
Jul 10 - Aug 22, 2008
Press release for exhibition History Keeps Me Awake at Night A Genealogy of David Wojnarowicz
William E. Jones
Carrie Mae Weems
David Wojnarowicz's intention is explicitly ideological: his aim is to affect the world at large; he attempts to create weapons to resist established powers." - Felix Guattari, 1989
This show presents the work of a select group of contemporary artists that have been the beneficiaries of David Wojnarowicz's art, writings, and voice. Although it has been sixteen years since his death in 1992, the potency of David's work and message still reverberates and affects those who come into contact with it. None of these artists knew David Wojnarowicz personally but they all have work that is directly connected to him. The work of these artists is uniquely theirs, but all of them are bound by the influence David has had on them, each in their own specific way. This is not a memorial, this is not a re-iteration or duplication, this is an exhibition that brings artists from different countries, backgrounds and aesthetics to a single space to show how the work and life of David Wojnarowicz continues to inform artists today.
"My paintings are my own written versions of history, which I don't look at as being linear. I don't obey the time elements of history or space and distance or whatever; I fuse them all together. For me, it gives me strength to make things, it gives me strength to offer proof of my existence in this form. I think anybody who is impoverished in any way, whether psychically or physically, tends to want to build rather than destroy."
- David Wojnarowicz 1989 in an interview with Barry Blinderman
David Wojnarowicz was born in 1954 in New Jersey and died of AIDS in 1992. He was a leading artist in New York's Lower East Side art movement during the 1980s and was a vocal activist against homophobia and AIDS discrimination. After his diagnosis in 1988 David became more involved in activism, especially with ACT UP. He brought his fight for freedom of expression all the way to the Supreme Court in Wojnarowicz v. American Family Association in which Donald E. Wildmon misused David's work in an attempt to show that it was pornographic and against family values. David won this case and was awarded a symbolic $1.00. David was a multi-disciplinary artist who used photography, painting, collage, sculpture and film to visually present social and political issues. Many of these issues overlapped with his writings, which were numerous. Titles of his writings include, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration; Memories That Smell Like Gasoline and The Waterfront Journals. From the beginning his art making was deeply collaborative with fellow artists; whether it be at the piers, in galleries, or in films and music, these collaborations were constant and essential in developing his artistic skill, vocabulary and impact.