ARTWORK

David Wojnarowicz, Democracy
Democracy

1990

Signed, titled, dated, and inscribed “AP,” recto

Black-and-white silkscreen print (Artist Proof)

23 x 20 inches

Contact gallery for price.

David Wojnarowicz combined personal history with fierce politics in mixed-media works and street pieces. The social ills named in Wojnarowicz’s print “Democracy” for Bullet Space’s poster project, “Your House Is Mine,” are no less pernicious 27 years later.

In the mid-1980s, as gentrification encroached on the East Village, the neighborhood’s eastern fringe remained a lawless landscape of abandoned buildings and rubble-strewn lots. Here in Alphabet City, amid the thriving drug trade, squatters surreptitiously reclaimed unused real estate. In 1986, a group of artist squatters led by Tenesh Webber sledgehammered their way into 292 East Third Street, between Avenues C and D. Accommodating living spaces as well as an exhibition space, Bullet Space quickly became a nexus for the East Village tradition of politically radical, semi-legal street art.

Bullet Space’s most ambitious project, the handmade artist’s book “Your House Is Mine” is a set of posters waging, as Elizabeth Hess described in “Artforum” (October 1991), “an ongoing class war against landlords, drugs, and AIDS and an eloquent protest against the lack of a safe environment for children.” From 1988 to 1992, Bullet Space worked with selected artists at the Bullet Print Shop and the Lower East Side Print Shop to create the 33 prints that would appear first as street posters, and subsequently as a limited-edition artist’s book, produced with Nadia Coen and Paul Castrucci. With contributions from Sandra “Lady Pink” Fabara, David Wojnarowicz, Anton van Dalen, John Fekner, Lee Quiñones, and other local street artists, the book is now seen as an essential record of the politically assertive art of the Lower East Side at the end of the century.

There are two limited edition versions of “Democracy” produced by Wojnarowicz, the black-and-white print being the earliest and rarest. The black-and-white copies were also used for wheat-pasting in the Loisaida neighborhood of the Lower East Side, leaving few in existence. This signed Artist’s Proof is from Wojnarowicz’s personal collection.

G.E.

Work by David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992)