In conjunction with the solo exhibition David Wojnarowicz. History Keeps Me Awake at Night (running until 30 September 2019), an exhibition staged by the Museo Reina Sofía on artist David Wojnarowicz (New Jersey, USA, 1954 – New York, USA, 1992), Marion Scemama’s film Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds: a Chapter in David Wojnarowicz’s Life, 1989–1991 will be shown for the first time in Spain. A conversation between the film-maker, who will introduce the film, and David Kiehl and David Breslin, the show’s curators, will take place after the screening in the first session.
Wojnarowicz atypically represents, through art, the fight against the stigma attached to AIDS and the gay community in 1980s New York. Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds splices the artist’s observations and opinions in different everyday moments in his life and, through an interview conducted by French theorist Sylvère Lotringer, assembles fragments of the visual work and personal archives of the director of A Fire in My Belly, displayed for the first time in this film. Scemama’s work thus creates an intimate, sensitive and political audiovisual portrait, depicting the artist with the AIDS virus and clinging to life as he challenges the demonization of the gay community in New York in what were the early manifestations championing politics of non-discrimination and care for those affected by HIV. Framed in this context, the film is a powerful and elegiac portrayal of artistic activity on New York’s Lower East Side, of which Scemama was a part, and some of its pre-eminent figures. In the conversation that follows, the curators will set out to analyse the major influence the American artist had on art-making focused on identity, biography, body and difference.
David Breslin is a curator and director of Collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has curated exhibitions such as Spilling Over. Painting Color in the 1960s and Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1960, and co-curated An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017, with David Kiehl, Jennie Goldstein and Margaret Kross. He is, along with David Kiehl, curator of the retrospective David Wojnarowicz. History Keeps Me Awake at Night.
David Kiehl is curator emeritus at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has curated a broad array of exhibitions on artists that include Yayoi Kusama, Pat Steir, Christina Marclay, Jenny Holzer, Pat Steir, Kiki Smith, Richard Tuttle and Ellen Gallagher, and co-curated An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017, with David Breslin, Jennie Goldstein and Margaret Kross. He is, along with David Breslin, curator of the retrospective David Wojnarowicz. History Keeps Me Awake at Night.
Marion Scemama is a Moroccan-born photographer and artist based in Paris. After living in Uruguay and France she arrived in New York 1981 to work as a photographer for a French magazine. Two years later she would cement a long-lasting relationship with David Wojnarowicz, and both worked on producing audiovisual and photographic projects until the artist’s death in 1992. In that period, Scemama’s most notable work includes Pier 34 (Relax Be Cruel) (1983), Last Night I Took a Man in the Subway and When I Put My Hands on Your Body (both in 1989).
Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds: a Chapter in David Wojnarowicz’s Life, 1989–1991
France, 2018, colour, original version with Spanish subtitles, digital archive, 78’
Session 1. Wednesday May 29, 2019 - 7:00 pm. After the screening, round-table conversation with David Breslin, David Kiehl and Marion Scemama
Session 2. Saturday 6 July, 2019 – 7pm