David Wojnarowicz came to prominence in the 1980s for his largely autobiographical work that focused on the politics of the body and the vulnerability—whether physical, emotional, or psychological—of the human subject. The ‘Culture Wars’ of the 1980s, which exposed deep-rooted, conflicting attitudes toward civil rights for homosexuals, brought to the fore two opposing ideologies within American society, each perspective (the conservative vs. liberal) threatened by challenges to cultural values and belief systems. As an artist, writer, and activist, Wojnarowicz was outraged by these conflicts and he sought to find a voice for his experience as an openly gay man living in the United States. His provocative work—including his 1987 film A Fire in My Belly—challenged political and religious perspectives, with the intent to raise social consciousness. The film is a reflection on suffering and, more specifically, the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, which profoundly affected the gay community and the public at large. Wojnarowicz lost friends to the disease and was himself diagnosed in the late 1980s and died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 37.
Two additional works by Wojnarowicz are on view in the museum's permanent collection galleries.
Image: A Fire In My Belly (film still), 1986-87, David Wojnarowicz, American, 1954-1992, Super 8mm film transferred to video (black and white and color, silent), 13:06 min. and 7:00 min. © David Wojnarowicz, Photo courtesy of The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York and The Fales Library and Special Collections/ New York University.?