Artist – David Wojnarowicz

Beautiful People, 1988

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P.P.O.W is pleased to present a silent super-8 film by David Wojnarowicz entitled “Beautiful People” (1988). Wojnarowicz (1954 – 1992) was a painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, performance artist and activist who was prominent in the New York City art world of the 1980s. His artwork and films were often considered controversial, most recently with the Smithsonian Institution’s removal of the re-edited excerpt of “A Fire in My Belly” (1986 – 1987) from the 2010 exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” which ignited a strong debate around the censorship of art. Wojnarowicz contributed to the Cinema of Transgression movement acting in Richard Kern’s “You Killed Me First” (1985) and “Stray Dogs” (1985) along with collaborating with Tommy Turner on “Where Evil Dwells” (1985).

“Beautiful People” (1988) a 34 minute silent film was a collaboration with Jesse Hultberg, who played the sole character in which the film follows on his journey from awakening in his apartment in New York City, dressing in drag, hailing a cab and traveling to a lake in upstate New York. The black and white film turns to color the moment the central character touches the lake. Seemingly lured by the beauty of nature, the fully clothed figure walks into the water and disappears.

The film explores the complexity of choosing to identify as ‘other’ with both humor and tragedy. The viewer is asked to contemplate the beauty of transgression and the desperate need for acceptance by society.The conflicts at the end of the film are left unresolved as it is unclear if the main character swims off to a new destiny or sinks beneath the water.