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The Installations and Ephemeral Art of David Wojnarowicz

John B. Henry

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Thesis Description


The Installations and Ephemeral Art of David Wojnarowicz


John B. Henry


Lisa Banner




The primary function of this thesis is to describe and collect documentation of the installation and ephemeral artwork produced by David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) throughout distinct parts of his artistic career. These intricate installations and thought-provoking ephemeral projects are emblematic of his biography, corpus, and the culture of art in the rapidly changing landscape of New York City in the 1980s, yet we know very little about them. Wojnarowicz sought to disrupt the stagnancy of society and culture by creating art in unexpected ways and new places, while also working through his dark past filled with physical and mental violence. Along with this private struggle, he had to face violence in society with the political and religious attacks of the Culture Wars during the AIDS crisis near the end of his life. While much of Wojnarowicz’s creative output has been examined and written about, one gap in the scholarship still surrounds his installations. The nature of installation is interdisciplinary and often ephemeral; It is a medium that engages the space it is presented in, the context of the things around it, and the time/duration it is given. This thesis surveys the installation artworks by Wojnarowicz both visually and critically while drawing lines of connection to his work in other media.




John B. Henry, “The Installations and Ephemeral Art of David Wojnarowicz,” History of Art & Design Theses, accessed September 25, 2018,