Interview with Marion Scemama by Glenn Wharton and Marvin Taylor on 11-3-2015

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Marion Scemama is a French photographer and filmmaker. She and Wojnarowicz met in 1984 when she was she on assignment to shoot him for the magazine ICI New York, and they became close friends. They collaborated on multiple works of film, video and painting, many of which combined her photography with Wojnarowicz's imagery. They were also frequently the subjects of one another's camera. Scemama went on several trips throughout the country with him, and spent significant time in the studio assisting him with production, particularly in 1989.

Interview Abstract

Scemama and Wojnarowicz’s first collaborations were in photography [00:48]. Their first photographs were at the piers when Scemama was doing a story about the East Village. Although she always considered herself to be a photojournalist, Wojnarowicz was the first to tell her that she was an artist. Before Scemama, Wojnarowicz had already had experience with a camera but because of Peter Hujar, Scemama speculates, he may have lacked confidence in his own skill [07:21]. Though Scemama was also a photographer, she did not intimidate David. Rather, they continually encouraged and supported one another, creating a strong friendship. The two often worked together, including a work that exhibited at T. Greathouse Gallery where Greer Lankton also showed [08:30]. Aside from photography, the two also collaborated on film [13:04]. These were never documentaries. They were always creative projects. They collaborated on his film with Rosa von Praunheim. At the time, Scemama was in Paris, but Wojnarowicz quickly contacted her for assistance. She essentially acted as an extension of Wojnarowicz’s own eyes. Often these collaborative projects stemmed from David’s creative mind but there was never a power trip [22:35]. His works were often deliberately planned out despite their improvisatory appearance. Even if storyboards were incomplete, David knew what would happen from start to finish [25:56]. Now, years after Wojnarowicz’s death, Scemama will be creating a film titled Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds that will showcase the process of David’s work [35:25]. The interview ends with her suggestions on who Wharton and Taylor can interview next concerning Wojnarowicz and his works.

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