Interview with Van Cook and Romberger by Glenn Wharton and Marvin Taylor on 5-11-2016

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Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger are artists and writers who ran Ground Zero Gallery, which showed Wojnarowicz's work. The three artists also collaborated on the graphic novel Seven Miles a Second.

Interview Abstract

James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook were the owners of Ground Zero Gallery, where Wojnarowicz exhibited many of his works, such as his collaborative work with Richard KernYou Killed Me First Installation #8. The two gallerists first met Wojnarowicz at Dean Savard’s gallery Civilian Warfare, which later became their first gallery space [04:36]. As gallerists, the two worked with artists to encourage them to push themselves to their furthest limits. Their gallery also offered a space that allowed for installation work, which was not often possible at the time [08:47]. As the interview continues, Romberger and Van Cook continue to discuss their roles as gallerists, artists, and their relationship with Wojnarowicz. At [17:37], Romberger and Van Cook elaborate on Installation #8. While speaking about the piece, they also discuss some of Wojnarowicz’s influences, both literary and artistic. Having such a close relationship with David, they understood, to some extent, what he intended from his work. When audiences and critics tried to argue that A Fire in My Belly did not attack the Catholic church, Romberger understood that the film was absolutely attacking the church [35:45]. It was not uncommon for people who did not know Wojnarowicz to misunderstand his art and humor.

Today, now that some of Wojnarowicz’s works are deteriorating, the problem of conservation comes into question [39:50]. Both Romberger and Van Cook believe that David would have wanted his works to be preserved. However, some problems can spawn from the paints he used. He was particular about the blue he used – Utrecht blue, but was also quite indifferent, using whatever house paints were on hand [47:55]. He was quite economical and would often mix art supplies with Romberger and Van Cook. Towards the end of his life, the three collaborated on Seven Miles a Second which was not completed until after his death [55:37]. The interview ends with Romberger and Van Cook giving suggestions on other possible interview candidates.

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