One of the last works by celebrated New York artist David Wojnarowicz is a black-and-white photograph of the artist’s face buried in dirt. The photograph was staged in 1990, less than two years before the artist died of AIDS. Until now, Wojnarowicz’s photograph has been interpreted as the image of a burial, a reference to the artist’s impending death. Dirty Encounters: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Legacy and the Work of David Wojnarowicz will compare Wojnarowicz’s photo to one of the last scenes of Teorema, the 1968 film by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The example of (Untitled) Face in Dirt and Teorema indicates the existence of a potentially complex relationship between Wojnarowicz and Pasolini, two gay artists who used provocation and sexual transgression to criticize capitalist society through their work.
Gian-Maria Annovi is assistant professor of French and Italian and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. He published a book on the relationship between de-centered subjectivity and corporeality in the poetry of Italian authors including Rosselli, Zanzotto, Sanguineti, Porta, and Pasolini. He is the editor of four volumes and the author of numerous book chapters and articles on Italian poetry, the Italian neo-avant-garde, and Pasolini. His art criticism and his interviews with contemporary artists regularly appear in the Italian newspapers Il manifesto and Alias. His new book on Pasolini’s performing authorship is forthcoming from Columbia University Press.