Cynthia Carr in conversation with Amy Scholder on The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz
Wednesday, October 3, 2012, 7:30 P.M., Lecture Hall, San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in conjunction with the San Francisco Art Institute and Bloomsbury Books present
An evening with writer and cultural critic Cynthia Carr in conversation with Amy Scholder discussing the life and work of seminal artist and activist David Wojnarowicz.
at the Lecture Hall, San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, California
celebrating the release of Cynthis Carr's acclaimed new book
Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz
published by Bloomsbury Books
In December 2010, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington made headlines when it responded to protests from the Catholic League by voluntarily censoring an excerpt of David Wojnarowicz's A Fire in My Belly from its show on American portraiture. Why a work of art could stir such emotions is at the heart of Cynthia Carr's Fire in the Belly The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz, the first biography of a beleaguered art-world figure who became one of the most important voices of his generation. Wojnarowicz emerged from a Dickensian childhood that included orphanages, abusive and absent parents, and a life of hustling on the street. He first found acclaim in New York's East Village, a neighborhood noted in the 1970s and '80s for its abandoned buildings, junkies, and burgeoning art scene. Along with Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Wojnarowicz helped redefine art for the times. As uptown art collectors looked downtown for the next big thing, this community of cultural outsiders was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. The ensuing culture war, the neighborhood's gentrification, and the AIDS crisis then devastated the East Village scene. Wojnarowicz died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of thirty-seven. Carr's brilliant biography traces the untold story of a controversial and seminal figure at a pivotal moment in American culture.
Cynthia Carr is a writer and cultural critic living in New York City. She has served as staff writer for The Village Voice and has also written about performance art and culture for ArtForum, LA Weekly, Interview, and Mirabella. She is the author of Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America and On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century.
Amy Scholder is the editorial director of the Feminist Press. Over the past twenty-five years, she has worked with David Wojnarowicz, Sapphire, Kathy Acker, Karen Finley, Barbara Hammer, June Jordan, Joni Mitchell, Kate MIllett, Judith Butler, Mary Woronov, Kate Bornstein, Jill Johnston, Justin Vivian Bond, Laurie Weeks, and many more writers and artists. She divides her time between New York City and Los Angeles.
What has been said about Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz:
"Carr's book is unimprovable as a biography—thorough, measured, beautifully written, loving but not uncritical—as a concentrated history of his times, and as a memorial, presenting him in his entirety, twenty years dead but his ardor uncooled." - Luc Sante in Bookforum
"This is a biography of the American Rimbaud: just as flamboyant, just as self-destructive, just as creative. It is the best portrait I've read of the gritty East Village art scene, of the poverty and drugs and unexpected successes. Cynthia Carr deserves a prize for her heroic research." -Edmund White, author of Jack Holmes and his Friend and City Boy
"Fire in the Belly is a painfully beautiful book, telling the short, harsh, and defiant story of a very complex man. The best contemporary artist's biography I know, it reads like a novel, with the brief, crazy Lower East Side art scene and the AIDS crisis as leading characters, revealed through extensive interviews with Wojnarowicz and his friends. Carr does an extraordinary job of exposing the depths of David's amazing life and art." -Lucy R. Lippard, author of Get the Message? A Decade of Art for Social Change
"In this lucidly composed, skillfully contextualized first complete biography of David Wojnarowicz, [Carr] reveals how the controversial artist's life experience shaped his art and politics...Vividly detail[s]the East Village art scene and Wojnarowicz's place in it... Powerful... Engrossing." -Publishers Weekly