Bibliography--Articles on Wojnarowicz

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Notions of the Collaborative in the Work of David Wojnarowicz

Anderson, Fiona. "Notions of the Collaborative in the Work of David Wojnarowicz." Papers of Surrealism Issue 8 (Spring 2010).

Drawing on the recent Semiotext(e) publication David Wojnarowicz: A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side, edited by Sylvère Lotringer, this article explores various notions of collaborative art practice in Wojnarowicz’s work. It draws attention to his numerous collaborative projects in order to explore the role of an interactive subjectivity in his art and in the community of the East Village art scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s more generally. Beginning with a focus on downtown living conditions, the problem of gentrification and its complex relationship with artistic communities in the East Village, I explore Wojnarowicz’s early fascination with drug culture and criminality and their representation in his early work: the ‘acid jam’ painting sessions led by Carlo McCormick, Wojnarowicz’s work at Civilian Warfare gallery, and the Ward Line Pier Project (1983), a major collaboration with painter Mike Bidlo. Drawing on this socio-economic analysis, the focus then shifts to explore collaboration in Wojnarowicz’s work as a form of ‘citational grafting’; a means of exploring ideas of queer history, genealogy and identity in 'multigenerational' collaborations with queer writers that fits with processes of collaboration in Wojnarowicz’s work as a whole. Jacques Derrida’s writings on ‘hauntology’ frame the discussion of works like the photographic series Arthur Rimbaud in New York (1978-9), and xeroxed collages of Jean Genet, which concludes with Wojnarowicz’s death bed portraits of Peter Hujar, and explores the impact of HIV/AIDS on this queer collaborative practice.

David Wojnarowicz's Fire in My Belly

Phillips, Brent. "David Wojnarowicz's A Fire in My Belly." The Back Table: Archives and Special Collections at New York University. 2010. This article by Brent Phillips, the Audiovisual Archivist at Fales Library, presents factual information about the various versions of Wojnarowicz’s film “A Fire in My Belly.” The original version in Wojnarowicz’s collection at Fales is a 13 min. super 8mm silent film that the artist did not complete. Phillips’s article explains that excerpts and alternate versions of the film with different soundtracks have been shown in various exhibitions, which have given rise to differing interpretations, confusion and controversy surrounding the film.

Wojnarowicz's Apostasy

Romberger, James. "Wojnarowicz's Apostasy." The Hooded Utilitarian. 2010. In his article "Wojnarowicz's Apostasy," James Romberger, artist and co-founder of Ground Zero Gallery which showed Wojnarowicz’s work in the 1980s, surveys Wojnarowicz’s political activism, his use of religious imagery, and the filming of “A Fire in My Belly” in addition to the film’s recent censorship issues. The article also describes Wojnarowicz’s collaborations with Marion Scemama and Tommy Turner and his solo and group exhibitions at Ground Zero Gallery including the “You Killed Me First” installation.

The Archival Object: A Memoir of Disintegration

[ Darms, Lisa. "The Archival Object: A Memoir of Disintegration." Archivaria 67 (Spring 2009): 143-155.] Held at Fales Library and Special Collection, Wojnarowicz’s “Magic Box” contains 69 objects collected by Wojnarowicz such as plastic toys, jewelry, stones, feathers, seeds, photographs and others. Through both theoretical and practical analysis, Darms's article examines the ways in which the “Magic Box” disrupts archival and art historical concepts of classification, provenance, context, description and inscription in addition to discussing the box and its contents in light of the dual symbolic and material value of all archival documents. Darms’s text presents the “Magic Box” as an example of the ways in which Wojnarowicz’s art and life subvert traditional notions of classification and thus must be examined and exhibited in ways that reveal their evolving complexity.

Odd Man Out

Cooper, Dennis. “Odd Man Out.” Artforum (October 1999): 130-131, 168. [will need to pull Artforum from stacks to write this annotation]

Out of the Safety Zone

Lippard, Lucy. "Out of the Safety Zone." Art in America (December 1990): 131-139, 182, 186.

This article was the cover story for Art in America in 1990. Lucy Lippard offers a detailed biography of Wojnarowicz and a sweeping account of his practice, with frequent first person observations. Lippard uses Wojnarowicz's words throughout the piece, quoting from published writings and from an interview she conducted with Wojnarowicz in December 1989. She offers extensive analysis of the "Four Elements" exhibition at Gracie Mansion in 1987 and of the Sex Series. Lippard explores the importance of religious, spiritual, sexual, and travel imagery in Wojnarowicz’s works, his committed political activism, and noted his affinities with specific writers such as Jean Genet and William S. Burroughs. This article situates Wojnarowicz’s work in the milieu of the downtown art scene in New York in the 1980s and in relation to montage techniques of Surrealism, Dada, and comics.

Ideas and Emotions

Deitcher, David. "Ideas and Emotions." Artforum (May 1989):122-127.

Deitcher’s article situates Wojnarowicz’s work in relation to historical avant-gardism though the artist's use of montage, collective processes, and an activist model for social transformation. Wojnarowicz’s “Sex Series”of photomontages and his photographs of Peter Hujar are discussed at length through formal description of the imagery, critical interpretations, and descriptions of the processes by which they were created. Deitcher’s analysis interweaves a wide range of themes in Wojnarowicz’s work--private and public, sex and surveillance, emotional and political conditions.

Queer Acts of Recovery and Uncovering: Deciphering Mexico through Archival Ephemera in David Wojnarowicz's A Fire in My Belly

Tyburczy, Jennifer. "Queer Acts of Recovery and Uncovering: Deciphering Mexico through Archival Ephemera in David Wojnarowicz's A Fire in My Belly." Text & Performance Quarterly 31, no. 1, 4-23. (2015)

Originally published in Text & Performance Quarterly 31, no. 1, 4-23. (2015), this article examines what the author calls the "Latinidad" in A Fire in My Belly (and Wojnarowicz's work more generally). It looks at the evolution of Wojnarowicz's use of Mexican symbology and spirituality throughout his work. The article considers itself a "a transnational project of queer critique."

Cruising the Queer Ruins of New York's Abandoned Waterfront

Fiona Anderson (2015) Cruising the Queer Ruins of New York's Abandoned Waterfront, Performance Research, 20:3, 135-144, DOI: 10.1080/13528165.2015.1049047

ABSTRACT: In late 1970s New York, prior to the advent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, artists and writers including David Wojnarowicz, Alvin Baltrop, Peter Hujar, and John Rechy walked the piers of the city's derelict waterfront in search of anonymous sex with the myriad men who cruised there. The buildings became props in the sexual encounters that took place there. The derelict landscape of the harbour and Wojnarowicz's erotic reaction to the forms of the warehouses themselves shaped his poetic ideas of non-linear, achronological ‘cruising time’ and architectural memory. In this article, I explore cruising in the ruins of the abandoned Lower West Side waterfront in the immediate pre-AIDS period, examining these artists’ sense of the queer temporality of the piers, where images of past and present raced ‘back and forth’ incoherently. I explore the visual culture of the waterfront and its cruising scene using, primarily, photographs, and other artworks and writings by Wojnarowicz and others as my guide, following their interest in the erotic appeal of ruins and the ‘traces of time embedded’ in these derelict buildings. I explore how the ruins of the piers, seen now through photographs and in archival materials, function presently as a means of figuring the early years of HIV/AIDS in New York and its pre-history through a rhetoric different from that of degeneration. By turning to the treatment of this ruined place in waterfront work from the pre-AIDS era, placing the past and present of the piers and the queer lives that they hosted in a non-linear open-ended dialogue with each other, I argue that we may escape the unexpectedly homophobic causality that contemporary ‘ruin lust’ and the idea of this late-1970s moment as a ‘last days of Rome’ both seem to point to.