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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

David Wajnarowicz

What most intrigued me in discussion last Friday was the differentiation between art that screams in your face with a message, and art that is more subtle and conceptual in its message. That is not to say that art that is more subtle doesn't have as much weight or importance, or isn't dealing with critical issues. For example, the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres was brought up as an artist who deals with extremely painful, difficult, and controversial topics through subtlety and a sort of silence. The piece of his that touches me the most, and even almost brings me to tears every time I think of it is Untitled (Perfect Lovers). A simple gesture of placing two clocks side by side, knowing that one of them will stop ticking before the other, or go out of sync with one another, sends such a strong message to the nature and inescapable reality of life (and death). On the other hand, an artist such as David Wajnarowicz makes art that affects the viewer directly in terms of confronting them with visual strength as well as a powerful content. His piece Untitled (Peter Hujar) is an example of that, a portrait that David shot of his friend right upon his death. This piece is a direct portrayal of the reality of AIDS, and is extremely painful to look at and to think about. It is quite haunting, and affects one on multiple levels. I think that it is important that works on both opposing sides of the scale continue to be made, some reaching out at you right away, and some reaching out at you more quietly and slowly, because there are so many different ways to deliver a message. 


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