A black-and-white illustration by David Wojnarowicz, on view last week at Chelsea gallery ClampArt, shows a grim reaper descending with a large scythe. The reaper claims to be “Democracy At Work,” but freely slices through individuals and activists voicing concerns like “No healthcare,” “Killer cops,” “Corrupt politicians,” and “Unemployment.” Though the piece was created in 1990, this so-called democracy keeps on wounding today.
This week, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.
On the 16th of November in 1964, four women and four men appeared in their underwear at the Judson Memorial Church, happily cavorting with each other and rubbing their bodies with carefree smiles. They piled up together, humping and sensually touching each other in a mess of raw fish, chicken and sausages. It was an event devoid of modesty, an unapologetic, uncensored expression of sexuality.
It was dark by the time members of the East Village walkabout group entered Tompkins Square Park, carrying plastic bags containing clean syringes, sterilized cookers and tourniquets, condoms, lubricants and dental dams.
The former convent on Hewes Street is a mystery house: there’s no sign outside announcing its name or mission. People walk in and out of the two-story building quietly, most of them black and Latino men largely unnoticed in this Satmar Hasidic part of South Williamsburg. One 34-year-old man, from Guatemala, paused to talk to this reporter and then was on his way, in a hurry to get a prescription filled.
Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.
It is hard to overstate the giddy hedonism of the early ’80s. Riding the tide of the ’70s sexual revolution, when feminism and gay power met the “if it feels good do it” ethos of the era, it was a great time to be young and on the prowl.