ARTWORK

David, Wojnarowicz, Marisela La Grave, Pier 34
Drawings at Pier 34

1983

Color photographic print [Kodachrome slide by Marisela La Grave; Print by David Wojnarowicz. See below.]

19.75 x 30 inches

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This is an image of the Pier 34 show. Guerrilla art shows that took place in unused City of NY buildings such as the Real Estate Show, or the Times Square Show that was held in an abandoned massage parlor, are examples of art collectives creating alternatives to the staid, exclusionary spaces of museums and galleries. They took the concept a step further with shows that were intentionally disposable, often leaving the artwork behind to be destroyed with the condemned buildings. The Pier 34 show organized by David Wojnarowicz and Mike Bidlo was the apex of this artistic protest, with the murals, stencil, and graffiti paintings literally crumbling into the Hudson River as the decayed waterfront was left to rot by a corrupt and indifferent city government. This photograph offers one of the few examples that remain of Wojnarowicz’s amazing contribution to the exhibition.

Although the exact history of this large photograph is unclear, it seems likely that it was made by Wojnarowicz for the 1984 Fashion Moda traveling show “Of The Street”. In early 1983 the long abandoned Pier 34 at the foot of Canal Street was the site of an illegal exhibition, as described above. The Pier 34 Show harnessed the raw street energy that then dominated the art scene and it was an important showcase for up-and-coming “East Village” artists. Authorities quickly shut down the show and soon demolished the pier leaving only a handful of photographs as the sole record of a now legendary event. The photographer of this large, color print of Wojnarowicz’s extraordinary room is Marisela La Grave whose connection with Wojnarowicz and her photographs of the art at Pier 34 is discussed in Cynthia Carr’s 2012 book Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz, pp. 204-6. A conversation with La Grave revealed that she lent the Kodachrome slide of this image to Wojnarowicz around 1984 so that he could make duplicates. The slide was never returned. Because this large color photograph was acquired from an archive associated with the Bronx art space Fashion Moda, it seems likely that Wojnarowicz used the slide to create this photograph for the Fashion Moda traveling exhibition “Of The Street.”

G.E.

Work by David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992)