Early on, we were fortunate to publish work by David Wojnarowicz and an essay by Félix Guattari in the pages of Rethinking Marxism.*
David Wojnarowicz’s creative work stems from his whole life and it is from there that it has acquired such an amazing power. It could even be said that it is through his plastic work and literary texts that he has turned himself into what he is today. The authenticity of his work on the imaginary plane is quite exceptional. His “method” consists in using his fantasies and above all his dreams, which he tape-records or writes down systematically in order to forge himself a language and a cartography enabling him at all times to reconstruct his own existence. It is from here that the extraordinary vigor of his work lies. David Wojnarowicz’s intention is explicitly ideological: his aim is to affect the world at large; he attempts to create imaginary weapons to resist established powers.
Now, there’s a new book, Fire in the Belly by Cynthia Carr, reviewed by Dwight Garner [ht: sb].
Wojnarowicz (pronounced voy-nah-ROH-vitch) was a painter, a photographer, a writer, a performance artist, a filmmaker and an AIDS activist — he was gifted at all these things, save perhaps filmmaking — whose work helped define the anarchic downtown Manhattan art scene in the 1980s. Much of his stuff was so resolutely ugly that it too shone with a defiant sort of beauty.
He’s probably best known for an image of striking simplicity, a photograph of buffalo falling from a cliff, taken from a diorama of the Old West at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. It became a symbol of the AIDS crisis; the band U2 put it on the cover of its 1992 single “One.”
*The piece was called “In the Shadow of Forward Motion,” published in volume 3, number 1 (1990).