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Wojnarowicz, David (1954-1992)  
 
page: 1  2  

The text is from the chapter "Spiral" in Wojnarowicz's book Memories That Smell Like Gasoline (1992). The last portion of the quoted passage reads: "I am shouting my invisible words. I am getting so weary. I am growing tired. I am waving at you from here. I am crawling and looking for the aperture of complete and final emptiness. I am vibrating in isolation among you. I am screaming but it comes out like pieces of clear ice. I am signaling that the volume of all this is too high. I am waving. I am waving my hands. I am disappearing. I am disappearing but not fast enough."

In another gelatin silver print made by Wojnarowicz in the year of his death, he rephrased these sentiments in an extreme close-up of his head as it is half-buried in dirt that barely leaves mouth, nose, and closed eyes visible. The artist offers himself as a living death mask.

Sponsor Message.

Wojnarowicz's grim imagery of rage and despair has its source in the specifics of a dying gay man, yet it also stands, more generally, as a memorial to injustice and human suffering.

He died on July 22, 1992.

Richard H. Axsom

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  AIDS Activism in the Arts

In response to the AIDS epidemic, a number of activist groups, including Gran Fury and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, have used art as a means to raise awareness about the epidemic.

literature >> Overview:  AIDS Literature

In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.

arts >> Overview:  American Art: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

After Stonewall, American gay male art underwent a radical transformation as artists came out and began to treat gay themes openly and directly.

literature >> Overview:  Beat Generation

The writers of the Beat Generation, many of whom were gay or bisexual, endorsed gay rights as a part of their rebellion against inhibition and self-censorship.

arts >> Overview:  Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art, which designates new currents in art since 1970, is identified with postmodernism; during this period an art addressing gay and lesbian identity emerged.

arts >> Overview:  Music and AIDS

A number of musical works in various genres have responded directly or indirectly to the AIDS crisis, generally focusing on expressions of grief, anger, or sympathy rather than on the personal and social consequences of the disease.

arts >> Overview:  New Queer Cinema

Independent films that aggressively assert homosexual identity and queer culture, the New Queer Cinema can be seen as the culmination of several developments in American cinema.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

Post-Stonewall gay male photography merits recognition for its contribution to fine art, documentation, photo-journalism, and advertising, as well as erotica.

arts >> Overview:  Pop Art

An early 1960s school of painting and sculpture that utilized the subjects, techniques, or stylistic conventions of popular culture, Pop Art expressed a camp sensibility.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Sex Workers

Although art historians have given very little attention to representations of sex workers, images of same-sex prostitution extend far back into history.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: St. Sebastian

Sebastian's broad and long-standing presence in queer artistic production suggests that he functions as an emblem of the feelings of shame, rejection, inverted desire, and loneliness endured by queer people in a homophobic society.

arts >> Overview:  Video Art

Queer video art explores diverse issues, but because it can be such a personally expressive medium, it frequently focuses on issues directly concerned with queer experience.

literature >> Genet, Jean

Jean Genet's work has left a powerful legacy to post-modernity and remains a provocation to questions of gay identity.

arts >> Haring, Keith

In his all-too-brief lifetime, gay American artist Keith Haring produced simple yet sophisticated images that reached a worldwide audience and transcended differences of race, nationality, gender, age, and sexual orientation.

arts >> Hujar, Peter

Photographer Peter Hujar created stark, stunning, affecting , and sometimes disturbing images in black and white.

arts >> Praunheim, Rosa von

One of Germany's leading gay activists and chroniclers of queer life, filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim makes films intended to foster self-examination by gay people and to advance gay rights.

literature >> Rimbaud, Arthur

Because his writing stresses liberation, the French "boy-poet" Arthur Rimbaud, whose art is based solely on his individual creativity, is a progenitor of modern gay poetics.


    Bibliography
   

Wojnarowicz, David. David Wojnarowicz: Brush Fires in a Social Landscape. New York: Aperture, 1995.

_____. Fever: Art of David Wojnarowicz. Dan Cameron, Mysoon Rizk, and Cynthia Carr, eds. New Museum Books 2. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1999.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Axsom, Richard H.  
    Entry Title: Wojnarowicz, David  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated December 11, 2011  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/wojnarowicz_d.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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