An Artist Who Talked It Out
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Published in: July-August 2021 issue.



F–k You F-ggot F–ker
Directed by Chris McKim
Hobo Camp Films,
World of Wonder Productions



ALTHOUGH David Wojnarowicz has been the subject of many essays, studies, and an excellent biography by Cynthia Carr, Chris McKim’s film is the first feature-length documentary to examine his life and work. The film does not have a narrator but makes extensive and effective use of the many tape journals that the artist recorded starting in 1976. The result is an audio collage that tells his story along with images of his work, and of the artist himself, that fade in and out in kaleidoscopic fashion.

            In these recordings, we hear Wojnarowicz in his own voice. He articulates his life’s complexities and contradictions and serves as the narrator of his own story, a historian of the self. At times, he reaches backward to interpret and evaluate his own past—notably, a childhood whose main feature was survival, in which all self-expression was prohibited. Then there’s the Wojnarowicz who is navigating the often complicated goings-on of the present, in which questions of survival—as a homosexual, as an artist, as someone with AIDS—mix with a boundless rage at the “diseased society” around him. In this way, the film blows away the sands that can fall upon artists and their work over time, bringing them back to life with a spectacular immediacy.

Self-portrait by David Wojnarowicz (with Tom Warren), 1983-84.

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Giancarlo Latta is a violinist, writer, and composer based in New York.