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Friday, December 10, 2010


A Fire in My Belly from ppow_gallery on Vimeo.

David Wojnarowicz died of Aids-related illnesses in 1992, at the age of 37. Once he was no more than a firebrand element of the cabal of East Village artists that sprung up around the downtown scene of 80s New York (revolving around such places as the Pyramid club and art spaces/abandoned cars/converted toilets such as Civilian Warfare and Fun Gallery, and through figures such as Gracie Mansions.

Keith Haring passed thru here. So did Kenny Scharf and Kiki Smith. Ru Paul started at the Pyramid Club, which is still there on Avenue A (last time I looked), though it is no longer much to write home about.

Wojnarowicz was catapulted into the public eye when his works provoked the wrath of careerist senator Jesse Helms, and the American Family Association. He keenly felt how people like him were being marginalised, victimised by the false moral prophets of the American right, left to die in hospitals and neglected by the corridors of power. These people didn't like his work, because, for once, it pointed an accusing finger at THEM, not the other way round. He became an impromptu spokesperson for the right to free expression in the face of enormous prejudice, and in the courts he won that particular battle.

Last week, the Smithsonian capitulated to pressure and removed the above video by Wojnarowicz, due to pressure by the Catholic League and Republican John Boehner, in the first (believe it or not) institutional retrospective of homosexual-themed art in America. Galleries across America and beyond are showing this work to the public, in angry response. Post it, share it, wherever you can.


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