The Final Secret of David Wojnarowicz

Photo  by  Matthew Leifheit

Photo  by Matthew Leifheit

"The irony, of course, was that for all his articulate anger and eloquent lust, Wojnarowicz had fuck-all ability to talk about himself. Cynthia Carr’s biography of him, Fire in the Belly, recounts reams of journal pages filled with admissions he never made. He seemed to speak the hidden desires of every fag in America save one—himself." - The Final Secret of David Wojnarowicz, Hugh Ryan, VICE Magazine, October 2014




In this hour-long presentation and Q&A, author Hugh Ryan and photographer Matt Leifheit discuss the final secret of influential queer artist David Wojnarowicz: The Magic Box, an unexplained collection of totemic objects found only after Wojnarowicz's death. Today, the Magic Box is in the permanent collection of The Fales Library & Special Collections at NYU, but through Leifheit's gorgeous, saturated photos, audiences will finally have a chance to see these magic items for themselves. The photos have already been placed in the David Wojnarowicz archive of his estate at P.P.O.W. Gallery.

Ryan's lecture is based on an article he originally wrote for VICE Magazine, as well as Wojnarowicz's published writings & diaries, and Cynthia Carr's biography of him. It explores the meaning behind these objects, as well as the reason why Wojnarowicz went to such great lengths to keep them hidden. Touching on everything from art history to writing to AIDS activism to photographic technique, this program appeals to a wide audience of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and community members.

If you would be interested in bringing this program to your school or community center, please contact Hugh Ryan - Hugh[.]Ryan @ gmail [.] com.

About the Presenters:

Matt Leifheit - In addition to being a photographer, Matthew Leifheit (b. Chicago, 1988) is Photo Editor of VICE Magazine. He is also founder and Editor-in-Chief of an independent journal of emerging photography called MATTE, which released its 30th issue at the New York Art Book Fair this September. MATTE has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is sold at Printed Matter, MoMA PS1 and Motto, Berlin. Leifheit recently accepted a faculty position at School of Visual Arts in New York, and continues to support emerging photography through writing for FOAM, Art F City, and TIME LightBox.

Hugh Ryan – Hugh Ryan is a freelance writer and the founding director of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, through which he has organized exhibitions in queer communities around the country. He has been invited to speak on queer history in places ranging from Sweden to Seattle, and he currently serves on the Board of QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking. His nonfiction writing can be found in the New York Times, Slate, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, VICE, Tin House, The Writer's Chronicle, Out, and many other venues. He is also a young adult writer, represented by Meredith Kaffel at DeFiore & Co.