Sunday, August 10, 2008

Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowic

"Peter Hujar Dreaming/Yukio Mishima: St. Sebastian," (1982)*

Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowic were lovers. That statement would make a great song or book title. And, right there my nasty alter ego jumps in.

“Why not for this essay, John?” (said sarcastically)

“Your making fun again.”

“No! But you’re such an incurable romantic!”

“Like that’s a bad thing.”

“The incurable part isn’t real great. And, of course we all know how the tale ended.”

“So - - - they both died of AIDS, first Peter (1987) then several years later, David (1992).”

“End of your story. Essay over.”

“But it isn’t over. I think their lives and work would make a wonderful play.”

“Fabulous, John!” (Said even more sarcastically.)

“Yes, well why not? In a way, Peter saved David’s life, helped to give him purpose and meaning. David took Peter’s death, and the deaths of so many others, and turned them into his personal crusade. His photographic montages / paintings became a scathing condemnation of a culture that was and still is perhaps as sick or more so than any poor soul dieing from AIDS.”

“Be that as it may…”

“No, I won’t be cut off that way. In future journal entries, as part of the series about gay male artists and the two kinds of artwork they create, I’ll take a look at the lives of Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowicz. I will show how they impacted one another’s lives, and I’ll discuss whether or not their work is just about the male body. I have a feeling that once again, the work of both men is more about the relationship of their vision to their sexuality, as well as to the culture in which they lived. I also think that we should especially revisit David’s work with an eye toward capturing his concerns about our culture. We might just be able to address current issues with more care. Perhaps we might even be able to make some corrections here and there.”

“Ah,” as I said, “Forever the incurable romantic.”

*The Image was taken from Queer Arts Organization Website,,"Peter Hujar Dreaming/Yukio Mishima: St. Sebastian," 1982. Acrylic and spray paint on masonite, 48” x 48”.
Collection of Evan Lurie (a bequest of Keith Davis), New York. Visited Sunday, August 10, 2008, 9:40 AM EDT. (The censure is my own doing due to fears of government pornography law.)


Alan Miller said...

david wojnarowicz was not afraid of government pornography law and neither should you be. if you are it would be better if were to remove the image. the idea of an artist, writer and teacher, censoring the work of another artist, and in particular this artist, given the nature and aims of his work, might, if you will excuse my language, appear a particularly spineless and self-serving gesture. but then again it is always better for everyone to know, when push comes to shove, who the cowards are.

Dr. John Bittinger Klomp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. John Bittinger Klomp said...

Hi Alan,

Whether we like it or not we live in a patriarchal society. I am pleased that my act of censorship has made you so angry. You should be, and so should we all! Hopefully, over time, the need for such acts of desecration (I use the word ironically) will no longer be necessary. If you read the entries in my journal about David, I believe you will understand that I too worship his response to the cultural repression he experienced.