Manhattan artist David Wojnarowicz, an inhabitant of that city’s late 20th century demimonde died of AIDS in 1992, at the age of 38. He had been terribly abused as a child, and was a runaway who ended up working as a teenage prostitute in New York’s Times Square. Among his creations was the photograph above which he made as statement of political protest. As a painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, performance artist, and activist his talents and modes of expression ranged farand deep
I first discovered Wojnarowicz on one of those wonderful Red Hot & CD compilations, Offbeat a Red Hot Soundtrip. The Meat Beat Manifesto ( there is also an eery rendition of Black Dada Nihilismus by its author Amir Baraka with DJ Spooky) was declaimed with a rage and fury that instantly grabbed my ears and attention and seared its way into my visual field.
Last summer Cynthia Carr published Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz (Bloomsbury USA)which admirably spotlighted David Wojnarowicz’s life, his work and the roiling lower Eastside art scene of the 80’s.
Jennifer Doyle sums up:
Carr has written an intimate portrait of Wojnarowicz’s struggle, even as the walls were closing in on him, to establish an understanding of his way of being in the world. Fire in the Belly honors Wojnarowicz’s vitality and passion, and that of his friends and all his lovers, too. It’s in the details. Like how when he met someone he liked, he would note in his diary, simply, “met a fella.” Written by someone who was there, and isn’t afraid to show us what that meant, this story is framed by disaster, but with a fierce tenderness in the writing — an attention to little things that would fall apart under less expert hands.
Now comes what Fantagraphics, the (re) publisher of 7 Miles a Second, calls a “primal scream of a graphic novel”. Artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook vividly depict David Wojnarowicz’s life and struggles in a much improved edition (it was first published by Vertigo as a comic book in 1996)
You can access some of Wojnarowicz’s <a href="http://ppowgallery.com/selected_work.php?artist=14&image=10“>art here
Currently reading Gulp by Mary Roach (WW Norton)