If I were to leave this country and never come back or see it again in films or sleep I would still remember a number of different things that sift back in some kind of tidal motion.
- David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives
P·P·O·W and Joe Sheftel are pleased to present Tidal Motion, a summer-long exhibition in Provincetown, MA, featuring a solo presentation of paintings, collages, stencils, prints, and photographs by David Wojnarowicz (b. 1954-1992). Each week, Wojnarowicz's work will be in conversation with contemporary artists, including Leilah Babirye, Anthony Cudahy, Kyle Dunn, Rafa Esparza, Nash Glynn, Oscar yi Hou, Joe Houston, Cheyenne Julien, Sam McKinniss, Devin Morris, Alina Perez, Skye Volmar, and Jonathan Lyndon Chase.
Marking the 40th anniversary of reported cases of what is now known as HIV/AIDS, Tidal Motion brings the work of David Wojnarowicz to the docks of Provincetown for the first time. In conversation with artists working today, Tidal Motion presents a meditation of the tide and flow of American life over the past four decades through the lens of David Wojnarowicz. The exhibition will feature a rotating presentation of works by contemporary artists whose art is informed by earlier generations, and who bring elements of community and historical narratives into their practices. Throughout Wojnarowicz’s life, rivers, lakes, and oceans offered the iconic artist an escape from what he called our “pre-invented existence.”
In boyhood, Wojnarowicz found sanctuary from an abusive home life in the forests and lakes surrounding his suburban New Jersey neighborhood. As a young artist in New York City, the Hudson River Piers provided a similar respite, acting as Wojnarowicz’s studio, sketchbook, and journal. Throughout his life, Wojnarowicz would periodically take buses to the country, finding a body of water to wade into fully dressed before hitchhiking back to the city. In his paintings, photographs, and writing, the theme of water is often linked to dreams and myths of emergence, in which the main character ascends to metamorphosis through submergence into a deep abyss. As in his dreams, the tidal movements of seawater represented a kind of sublime purification or comforting oblivion for Wojnarowicz, merging death, birth, sex, solitude, movement, heaven, and hell within “the continual rippling waters, the indigo that claims it all.”
David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was among the most incisive and prolific American artists of the 1980s and 90s. Wojnarowicz’s work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The American Center, Paris, France; The Busan Museum of Modern Art, Korea; Centro Galego de Art Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; The Barbican Art Gallery, London; and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. His work is in permanent collections of major museums nationally and internationally and his life and work have been the subject of significant scholarly studies. Wojnarowicz has had retrospectives at the galleries of the Illinois State University, curated by Barry Blinderman (1990) and at the New Museum, curated by Dan Cameron (1999). A third retrospective, David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, co-curated by David Kiehl and David Breslin, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in July 2018. The widely acclaimed exhibition has been reviewed in Artforum, The Guardian, The New York Times and The New Yorker, among others. The retrospective will travel to the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid in May 2019 and the Musee d/Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg City in November 2019. A concurrent exhibition of Wojnarowicz’s films and photographs opened at the KW Berlin in February 2019. Wojnarowicz: Fuck You Faggot Fucker, a comprehensive feature-length documentary directed by Chris McKim, premiered in November 2020 to rave reviews.