Wednesday, September 3, 2008

David Wojnarowicz and Peter Hujar

One in a continuing series of entries about gay male artists and their work

I’ve looked all over the Internet, and found a great deal about David Wojnarowicz’ art, less about the artist, and still less about his relationship with Peter Hujar. I did read that Peter had acted as a mentor to David. I also read about the photographs David took of Peter, dead of AIDS in the hospital corridor. Perhaps I know a small amount of the rage David must have felt toward the disease that took his friend/lover and that he knew would ultimately take his own life. I also know something of the alienation he felt toward the society he lived in, having felt like a space alien stranded on earth myself as a teenager and young closeted gay twenty something art educator.

However, I had a good family history with two loving parents, who did everything they could to get a cure for my homosexuality. Yes, a cure. Don’t forget, it was 1962 when I came out to them. Homosexuality was just about the worst thing that could happen to a parent. Besides, obviously and happily it didn’t work. Ah, but I digress. David, on the other hand, had a dysfunctional family history, ended up on the streets of New York as a teenage hustler, spent time traveling as a street person all over the continental U.S., to the West Coast and Paris, and (to my mind) was rescued by Peter Hujar. The artistic training David received was from Peter, and he lived and worked as an outsider in a world that gave him little, and stole the life that David built for himself out of the nothing he had been given.

Anger! Yes. The amazing miracle is that he was able to take the hand he was dealt and turn it into a full house for the rest of us. Did he explore his life in relation to his sexuality! You bet! Did his lover, Peter do the same. Absolutely! Thus two more gay artists disprove my original thesis statement.

*"David Wojnarowicz Majic Box," Beatrice Glow, October 24, 2007 entry,, viewed Thursday, September 4, 2008. This is a copyrighted image though it is believed that use to illustrate an article about David Wojnarowicz is acceptable as long as the image is not to be repeated in any other venue.

No comments: