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Guide to the David Wojnarowicz Papers MSS.092

Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Marvin J. Taylor

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on October 13, 2021
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Updated by Jacqueline Rider to reflect incorporation of video preservation master and sub-master files Updated by Megan O'Shea to add seven items and prepare 24 others for a move to offsite art storage in September 2017 Updated by Megan O'Shea to incorporate items treated and rehoused by Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department staff Updated by Megan O'Shea to prepare artwork being sent to offsite art storage in December 2017 Updated by Weatherly Stephan to note deaccessions Updated by Kelly Haydon to incorporate new digital access copies of materials from Series VIII, Subseries C: Sound Materials Updated by Anna McCormick to remove obsolete links.  Edited by Amy C. Vo to revise harmful language regarding suicide and addiction Updated by Anna Björnsson McCormick to note context between art objects.  Updated by Weatherly Stephan to reflect rehousing of objects in Series XIII  , March 2017 , August 2017 , November 2017 , December 2017 , June 2018 , May 2019 , January 2020 , April 2021 , July 2021 , October 2021

Scope and Content Note

The David Wojnarowicz Papers are comprised of journals, correspondence, manuscripts, ephemera, photography, artwork, film, video and audio works.

The film, video and audio series (Series VIII, IX and X) of the David Wojnarowicz Papers contain audio, film and video works by David Wojnarowicz, as well as an extensive collection of film, video and audio source materials produced by Wojnarowicz. The collection of source and production materials reflects his interest in documenting environments through visual and audio recording media, as well as his tendency to reuse imagery from various media. The source materials include recorded journal entries, ambient recordings and interviews with friends and colleagues. Works by other downtown NYC artists and collaborators, such as Ben Neill, Richard Kern, Charles Atlas, Phil Zwickler, and Rosa von Praunheim are included in the collection as well as commercial works representing David Wojnarowicz's personal videotape library. Also included in the collection are taped radio interviews which document the NEA and Donald Wildmon/ American Family Association controversies. The collection also includes phone message tapes from David Wojnarowicz's personal answering machine. These tapes document significant events in his life such as the death of Peter Hujar. Descriptive information for items in these series is taken from any descriptive information provided by the artist on the object or its packaging.

The photography series (Series IX) contains multiple formats of photographs taken by David Wojnarowicz, mainly during the 1980s and early 1990s. Negatives, contact sheets, prints, and slides offer different media in which to examine Wojnarowicz's camera style, subject matter, and photographic collages. Contact sheets often have Wojnarowicz's notation on them as to which frames to reprint or enlarge, allowing a glimpse into his artistic choices. In addition, the envelopes which originally housed the contact sheets and negatives are full of Wojnarowicz's descriptions of the images inside, and sometimes his thoughts about their artistic merit. Negatives of important Wojnarowicz photographic work, such as the Rimbaud series, diorama shots, and photographs of Peter Hujar's death, are included. These negatives are not open to researchers. Wojnarowicz's many trips to Paris, Berlin and Mexico are well documented; inspirations gained on these trips can be traced throughout Wojnarowicz's work. The prints, which range in size from 3 x 5 in. to 16 x 20 in., often show a variety of exposures and darkroom techniques on the same image, detailing the options from which the final choice was made. Wojnarowicz's collection of commercial pornographic images is included here, and contains images which were later incorporated into several of the Sex series works. Many prints of the Rimbaud series, as well as many copies of a source photograph of a meteor crater, are contained in this series. A numbered run of slides contains most of Wojnarowicz's completed art works and documents, along with the prints and contact sheets, of many of his installation pieces.


Folders are arranged both alphabetically by subject/author heading and chronologically depending on the nature of the materials.

The files are grouped into 13 subject based series and further subdivided into subseries.


  1. Series I: Journals
  2. Series II: Correspondence
  3. Series III: Manuscripts
  4. Series IV: Phone Logs
  5. Series V: Art Magazines and Catalogue Contributions
  6. Series VI: Biographical
  7. Series VII: Subjects
  8. Series VIII: Audio [SEE ALSO Accretions 2001]
  9. Series IX: Photography
  10. Series X: Video and Film
  11. Series XI: Art Works
  12. Series XII: Library
  13. Series XIII: Objects and Artifacts
  14. OVERSIZE - Series I: Journals and Diaries
  15. OVERSIZE - Series V: Art Magazines and Catalogue Contributions
  16. OVERSIZE - Series VI: Biographical
  17. OVERSIZE - Series VII:Subjects
  18. OVERSIZE - Series IX: Photography
  19. OVERSIZE - Series X: Video and Film
  20. OVERSIZE - Series XI: Art Works
  21. OVERSIZE - Series XII: Library
  22. Mapcase - Series VII: Subjects
  23. Mapcase - Series XI: Art Works
  24. Accretions 2001 - Media
  25. Accretions 2001 - Series VI: Biographical