Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds: A Chapter in David Wojnarowicz's Life, 1989-1991

Director: Marion Scemama
2018 | France | 78m

In his brief, notorious life, artist David Wojnarowicz burned hot and bright. Born in poverty and raised in neglect, sexual at a young age and hustling as a teenager, he was the right artist to shake up the 1980s East Village scene with explicit sexuality and dissections of toxic American culture. His work was always in-your-face: photographs of men having sex among the dilapidated Hudson River piers; a post-punk band called 3 Teens Kill 4; and a series of angry, sexy videos, which were attacked by fundamentalist right-wingers.

Director Marion Scemama and editor François Pain, both friends and collaborators of Wojnarowicz, artfully brings together interviews shot in his cluttered apartment in 1989, along with rare glimpses of his beautiful, provocative art. This simmering documentary builds toward the intense, outraged live performances he delivered at the height of the AIDS crisis, before his death in 1992. It’s an intimate portrait of the serious, goofy, anguished, brainy, and horny sides of an essential artist and activist who gave voice to unapologetic queerness at the end of the 20th century.


Ken Fulk Inc.

  • Premiere Status: Bay Area