America:Heads of Family Heads of State

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America: Heads of Family/Heads of State, in The Decades Show: Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s
The New Museum of Contemporary Art
May-August 1990


According to Fire in the Belly,

"The New Museum gave David a small room with the fourth wall open. David had hired Judy Glantzman to help him. They drove to the Palisades together in her car to collect twigs, leaves, and branches. He knew what elements he wanted to include, and he'd sketched a very complex, very labor-intensive plan in his journal. ….He called the piece ‘America: Heads of Family/Heads of State.’ At the center he suspended a large papier-mâché head, blindfolded with the word ‘QUEER’ written in red paint across the forehead. Below it were two video monitors on a stand, running some of the ITSOFOMO footage. He placed images around that stand--a photo of anti-gay picketers with signs like ‘AIDS is a Punishment from the Eternal Father’ next to a photo of Nazis destroying the Institute of Sexual Science. …. Laid out in front of that on a kind of nest made of branches and flowers was the child skeleton wearing a white dress. He placed a large print of One Day This Kid on the back wall, with photos of politicians like Reagan and Helms and pictures of his own parents on the side walls. Between the setup and This Kid, he'd created a kind of village on a leaf-and-twig-strewn floor, with a couple of small houses covered with dollar bills, his globe where the only country is America (repeated in all hemispheres), a doll reclining in a plexiglas cube, a child’s chair, with branches growing from it--and nestled at the center, Horton Hears a Who.” [1]

Wojnarowicz planned extensively for this installation throughout 1989 and 1990. Sketches and notes for the installation can be found in the Wojnarowicz Papers at Fales:
Wojnarowicz's journals: Box 1 Folder 22 Journal "1989-90: Louisiana/NYC/Berlin/Paris/Mexico," as well as the Phone logs, Series IV, Box 7, Folders 10, 22, 23.

Installation View of America Heads of Family/Heads of State


Judy Glantzman
Glantzman is an artist and collaborator of Wojnarowicz. She also worked on The Missing Children Show with him.

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  1. Cynthia Carr, Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz (New York, Bloomsbury, 2012): 484-485.