Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

David Wojnarowicz seems important right now

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On Tuesday I heard an astonishing segment on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” It was about an apparent spike in anti-gay bullying that has swept through America in recent months, a spike that has also highlighted possibly increased suicides among gay and questioning youth. The NPR piece took as its departure point — as an acceptable journalistically ‘neutral’ premise — that gays and lesbians do not necessarily have a right to exist, that the mere right of gays and lesbians to live lives was a reasonably debatable cultural flashpoint.

Today, as I was thought about both the NPR piece and the bullying binge, I thought of David Wojnarowicz. The New York-based Wojnarowicz made art about the right of humans to be different from each other and about what it feels like to be unlike the dominant hetero-norm.

David Wojnarowicz, who was the subject of a 1999 New Museum retrospective, made art so different, so plain and so direct that it stands as an example: It’s not just activists and politicians that can impact America and American lives; artists have something to say about our world too, something that needs to be seen and heard.

Twenty years ago, Wojnarowicz made this piece, Untitled (One day this kid…). He made it as a 30 3/4-inch X 41-inch photostat, but it’s probably gained more cultural currency as a postcard available at just about every progressive bookstore in New York.  This seems like a good time to post it. It also seems like a good time to suggest you visit and support GLSEN and that you share Wojnarowicz’s work with, well, everyone you can think of. Especially young people, all of them.

(Update: These five museums own this piece. Encourage them to install it now.)

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  1. Robert Ransick says:

    Hi Tyler,
    It’s really great you posted this entry on David and his “One Day This Kid” work. It is astonishing how haunting and true his words still are nearly 20 years since his authoring them.

    I am currently working with PPOW Gallery and David’s Estate to release a printable PDF version of this piece with links to various resources for LGBT youth. It should be online soon and we’ll let you know when it is.

  2. Hi, Tyler. James and I wanted to make sure you knew that the image is of David as a child, since that’s not mentioned. Thank you for the lovely post.

  3. Steve Heath says:

    Wow! what a perceptive statement…all my long life I’ve been this kid living life with the constant realization that most of society holds my existence in contempt. What is it that makes us so frightening and threatening to so many. I’m not naive, I just really don’t get it. Thank you David for such an articulate statement.

  4. I have a tee-shirt with this exact text and image of David Wojnarowicz. I find those words deeply moving. David always spoke from a direct experience, that’s why he always is so true.
    The high number of gay teen suicides has always been known by
    the gay community. Only now the mainstream media take notice.
    David Wojnarowicz was a very generous person, he appeared in my film “Pompeii New York Part 1: Pier Caresses”, about the West Side Piers. He shared with me his fascination for that location.

  5. The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford did have this on view a couple of years ago in one of their modern/contemporary galleries. It is totally empowering.

  6. Susan Stephenson says:

    I have two questions: 1. how do you pronounce David’s last name correctly (I’d like to tell people about his work and would hate to mangle his name,) and 2. Mr. Galietti, where can others find and buy a tee shirt with the text and image you mentioned? I’d like one.

    Thanks for this post, Mr. Green.

  7. […] from Towleroad.com interested me. It pictures a Wojnarowicz piece that a curator, Timothy Greene, at Modern Art Notes found especially relevant right now. Greene […]

  8. […] One day this kid: In the wake of recent suicides among gay teens in the US – and a recent National Public Radio debate that “took as its departure point — as an acceptable journalistically ‘neutral’ premise — that gays and lesbians do not necessarily have a right to exist” – MAN’s Tyler Green considers whether it’s high time for American museums to pull out their editions of David Wojnarowicz’s pivotal Untitled (One day this kid…) (a work I’ve previously highlighted on this blog). […]

  9. […] censorship by placing ‘A Fire in My Belly’ and Wojnarowicz’s other piece “One Day this Kid” in their […]

  10. […] via: Modern Art Notes Category : Uncategorized Tags : art, david wojnarowicz […]

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