Tuesday, August 21, 2018

"Don't Ever Give Up the Beauty": Brooklyn Love Street, David Wojnarowicz, and other friends along the way.

The Lazaretto
One of my favorite activities when i get home from a trip is to see what graffiti and murals have found their way onto the ever evolving streets, construction sites, and corridors of my city. 
A wrecking ball took one of my favorite graffiti walls on Bond Street 
and new murals found their way onto Smith Street, the ecology of our city ever shifting . 
A David Wojnarowicz show was up at the Whitney. 
For a while he lived in our neighborhood in Brooklyn, before
he made his way to the East Village. 
So we wandered over to check out the show of perhaps the most influential of the East Village artists. 
I remember the thrills seeing his work in 1999 at the last full retrospective of his retrospective of his work, listening to him speak about living with HIV and a desire that still burned in him
"There's a fire in my belly, there's ants in my pants," we chanted. 

Top James Wagner, this blogger and James Wenzy at the protest over Wojnarowitz censorship and the Smithsonian. 
Below, photo by Kate Huh of this writer, his daughter, and Jack Waters at the same rally December 2010 rally outside the Met. 
And this summer, the Wojnarowicz show at the Whitney continued to ignite action. 

Members of ACT UP stage a protest at the Whitney Museum during its David Wojnarowicz exhibition on July 27, 2018.The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, is protesting the current Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition “David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night,” as they feel the show casts the AIDS epidemic in a historic light. Photos courtesy of Alan Timothy Lunceford-Stevens.

 Wojnarowicz always inspires. Walking to the Whitney, past the expensive restaurants, its impossible to forget the battles over the pipeline under the foundation of the building, surrounded by an ever shifting neighborhood.
David's subject was 42nd street, the East village, the Hudson River Piers, Coney Island, his city, his friends living and dying, Peter Hujar and Gene Genet, walking as Arthur Rimbaud in New York, comparing his life and the poets, the violence and change and anguish:"But, truly, I have wept too much! The Dawns are heartbreaking. Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter."And we look at the city and then back at his walks through the city. "Idle youth, enslaved to everything; by being too sensitive I have wasted my life," Rambaud reminds us to live now. The teenager walks looking at the art with me as she has always done, taking it all in, thinking about the show she is going to tonight, her friends, her life in the city.Back to David and his friends, his collages remapping his life beyond a colonized, commodified world, still screaming at us through time.The village is always a city full of friends we know, friends who are no longer here, who have made their way somewhere else. They are all part our city and our experience. Walking here reminds us. David reminds us:"Don't ever give up the beauty.  We're fighting so we can have things like this.  So we can have beauty again." 

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