an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Welcome back, David Wojnarowicz

It was an architecture of a population anticipating impermanence or death. It was a vacuum turning inside out, prefab materials of housing resembling the dry husks of insects halfway through their molt. #

On the life force: #

I remembered a friend of mine dying from AIDS, and while he was visiting his family on the coast for the last time, he was seated in the grass during a picnic to which dozens of family members were invited. He looked up from his fried chicken and said, “I just want to die with a big dick in my mouth.” #

On infatuation: #

He was the kind of guy I’d rob banks for. #

On death: #

There were so many days of waiting for him to die the third and final time and we’d been talking to him daily because they say hearing is the last sense to go. Sometimes alone with him, the nurse outside the room, I’d take his hands and bend over whispering in his ears: hey, I don’t know what you’re seeing but if there’s light moved toward it; if there’s warmth move toward it; if you see nothing then try to imagine that one period of calm in the midst of that sky just where it reaches the ocean. #

On distrust: #

He reminded me of a guy who’d sell you dead chameleons at a circus sideshow. #

On Cardinal O’Connor: #

This fat cannibal from that house of walking swastikas up on fifth avenue should lose his church tax-exempt status and pay taxes retroactively for the last couple of centuries. #

On Jesse Helms: #

I scratch my head at the hysteria surrounding the actions of the repulsive senator from zombieland who has been trying to dismantle the NEA for supporting the work of Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe. #

On too much death: #

There is a tendency for people affected by this epidemic to police each other or prescribe what the most important gestures would be for dealing with this experience of loss. I resent that. At the same time, I worry that friends will slowly become professional pallbearers, waiting for each death, of their lovers, friends and neighbors, and polishing their funeral speeches; perfecting their rituals of death rather than a relatively simple ritual of life such as screaming in the streets. #

Wouldn’t it be nice if people go into the National Portrait Gallery and scream in the lobby in Wojnarowicz’s honor? #



  1. Thanks for the quotes, Regina. Reading Close to the Knives as a young man changed my world view, made me angry and got me involved with queer politics. It also affected my art in a significant way.
    It feels like very little has changed in the art world since 1987 – queer-themed work is still marginalized on a national level and is represented only by the good graces of those in power. What is implicitly understood is that we should know not to rock the boat with overtly political or sexual work and stick to our roles as vapid entertainers (see the entire Bravo network).
    Part of what made Wojnarowicz’ work so strong for me was his inability to pull punches. Where Felix Gonzalez-Torres turned his despair into beautiful elegies, Wojnarowicz turned that despair into righteous anger. Me, I use humor and metaphor in my art to transform my anger and despair at how the world at large views me. But thank god for Wojnaworicz, his anger still burning bright, his truths still scaring the shit out of half-assed politicians and curators.

  2. “….if there’s light move toward it; if there’s warmth move toward it; if you see nothing then try to imagine that one period of calm in the midst of that sky just where it reaches the ocean.” Enlightened compassion.

Leave a Reply

an ArtsJournal blog