TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT March 2003

BLOOD OF THE POETS: THE TRIBAL ’80s

I. “We are born into a preinvented existence within a tribal nation of zombies and in that illusion of a one-tribe nation there are real tribes,” New York artist and writer David Wojnarowicz stated in 1991, the year before his AIDS-related death. Fighting the homogenizing forces of state power and nationalist ideology had been a central task Wojnarowicz had set for himself throughout his career. Time and again he directed attention toward the million tribes within the phantasmic “one-tribe nation,” perhaps most prominently in the now legendary essay he contributed to the catalogue of “Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing,” the 1989–90 AIDS exhibition curated by Nan Goldin at New York’s Artists Space. Wojnarowicz’s text about the deathly negation of multifaceted tribalism by Reagan’s America earned the enmity of National Endowment for the Arts chairman John Frohnmayer, who tried to defund the

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