David Wojnarowicz, one of the most acclaimed artists to emerge from the AIDS era, is the subject of an upcoming documentary directed by Chris McKim and produced by World of Wonder duo Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato.
Incorporating painting, graphics, street art, sculpture and Super-8 film, Wojnarowicz lashed out at society’s blindness to the epidemic in his works, which also addressed gay rights, racial injustice, and other social issues. (Wojnarowicz’s photograph of buffalo falling off a cliff was used as the cover of U2’s One.)
The doc, tentatively titled Wojnarowicz, will include journals, letters, recordings, and films by the artist, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1992 at age 37. With interviews with collaborators, friends, and lovers, it’s an intimate look at his artistic output and personal life: A former homeless youth and teen hustler Wojnarowicz found his tribe in the pre-gentrified East Village with future luminaries like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kiki Smith and Nan Goldin.
After he was diagnosed with AIDS in the late ’80s, Wojnarowicz’ art became even more political and he became embroiled in public debates about medical funding, censorship and the legal rights of artists. He successfully sued the anti-LGBT American Family Association, which condemned NEA funding of his art in a pamphlet including unauthorized use of his art taken out of context.
“The documentary is exceptionally timely in today’s political landscape, from police brutality, gun control debates, the fight for healthcare, immigration, equality and diversity—David’s work is as relevant today as it was in his time,” World of Wonder said in a statement. “[It] will examine these issues through that work and add his voice to the resistance.”
Barbato and Bailey previously collaborated with McKim on the 2016 Emmy-winning documentary Out of Iraq, about two soldiers who fell in love during the Iraq War. The duo also produced and directed the documentary Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, profiling controversial out photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.