As certain artists are lionized over time, other legacies are often overshadowed by the veneration of their peers. The names Keith Haring and Robert Mapplethorpe are well known to more than the students of queer outsider art who first discovered them, but their contemporary David Wojnarowicz has remained lesser known. In “Wojnarowicz: F*** You F****t F***er,” a new documentary about the prolific artist and AIDS activist, filmmaker Chris McKim aims to elevate his work beyond queer art circles. This exclusive first trailer offers an intriguing taste of this singular multimedia artist and political voice.
The film gives an intimate look at the life and times of the artist, with unprecedented access to his archives and the full cooperation of his estate. Wojnarowicz inspired a generation through his work at the heart of political and culture wars in New York City in the 1970s and 80s. The film draws on Wojnarowicz’s collection of journals, letters, recordings and films along with interviews with collaborators, friends, and lovers. In addition to his photos and paintings, the film details Wojnarowicz’s troubled childhood in New Jersey, time hustling in the 1970s Lower East Side, and radical performance art band that once opened for Madonna.
“David’s keen observations of America’s One-Tribe Nation mentality, the corruption, greed and hypocrisy of politicians in his lifetime could have easily been said at any point over the last four years and all the time in between,” McKim told IndieWire via email. “Within his journey as an artist, as his skills and rage developed, he constantly challenged himself & his work to speak truth to power. His life was a constant call to action which became the message of the film.”
In addition to directing, McKim produced the documentary along with World Of Wonder co-founders Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey. This trio also collaborated on the Emmy-winning documentary “Out of Iraq,” as well as “Freedia Got a Gun,” which premiered on NBC’s Peacock this month.
As McKim points out, Wojnarowicz had a prescient and incisive activist vision and his ideas and art couldn’t be more relevant in today’s political climate. “As he says in the documentary, if we put ourselves on the line in our work we ‘apply a tiny amount of pressure on a system of control that would willingly jump into fascism if there wasn’t enough pressure on its throat,'” McKim said.
“Wojnarowicz” will make its world premiere at DOC NYC in the Metropolis Competition, which spotlights distinctly New York stories. Check out the trailer for “Wojnarowicz: F*** You F****t F***er,” available exclusively on IndieWire, below.