“David Wojnarowicz: Brush Fires in the Social Landscape,” Aperture, 1994

David Wojnarowicz: "Brush Fires in the Social Landscape," Aperture 137, Fall 1994.

David Wojnarowicz: “Brush Fires in the Social Landscape,” Aperture 137, Fall 1994.

“It is impossible to separate Wojnarowicz’s life from his art. They intertwine synergistically and serendipitously, contesting hypocrisy and oppressive forms of authority,” write Aperture’s editors. 

“David Wojnarowicz: Brush Fires in the Social Landscape” is a monographic issue of Aperture magazine (No. 137), published in the fall of 1994. Included in this volume is art critic Lucy Lippard’s extensive essay “Passenger on the Shadows,” about the arc of David’s work. It is accompanied by excerpts from David’s own writing, as well as personal remembrances of David and his love of the camera by friends and collaborators. This includes essays by cultural historian C. (Cynthia) Carr; art writer Elizabeth Hess, artists Kiki Smith and Nan Goldin, culture critic Carlo McCormick, performance artist Karen Finley, photography critic Vince Aletti, filmmaker Tessa Hughes-Freeland, David’s partner Tom Rauffenbart, and David’s lawyer in his case against Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association, David Cole. 

The issue also includes two interviews: a 1990 conversation between artist Nan Goldin and David, previously published in Interview magazine, and an interview between Aperture editor Melissa Harris and Fran Lebowitz.

Aperture editors explain that they created this issue to give voice to an artist and a generation “wrestling with issues of sexuality, identity, and the fragility of life.” Although they began discussing the publication with David in 1992, it was published posthumously, in 1994 (with the help of Rauffenbart and painter/designer Jean Foos, who designed the issue). In 2015, Aperture published a 20th-anniversary edition of Brush Fires in the Social Landscape in hardcover, featuring new essays from artists and writers examining the lasting effects of David’s work and life. This includedLynne Tillman on Brush Fires in the Social Landscape.”

Additional resources re: David Wojnarowicz: Brush Fires in the Social Landscape. New York: Aperture (No. 137), 1994.

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NYU Fales/Melissa Harris interview