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‘Wojnarowicz: F--k You F----t Fucker’ review: Portrait of a fiery & fearless queer artist

Not gay as in happy.

Wojnarowicz: F--k you F----t Fucker is such an incendiary title that it is hard not to believe that it was chosen for little more than shock value. The documentary is a personal look at the queer artist who lived in New York City during the height of the AIDS crisis. Wojnarowicz used his art and his words to bring light to a disease that those in charge wanted to ignore.

It becomes clear early in the documentary that the powerful title’s in your face motif is a reflection of Wojnarowicz. Director Chris McKim uses a series of audio recordings left by Wojnarowicz to tell the story of the activist’s life. These journals do a great job of providing insight even when the film seems to slip up. They display the rage and passion that is sometimes lacking.

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Stylistically, Wojnarowicz will end up dividing opinions. There are no talking heads as the documentary instead plays audio over the works of the subject. It is an interesting idea that works in small doses – it is a common technique in movie credits, for example. But for a film that runs over an hour and a half, it will seem like an extended opening to some. Even worse, it may come off as cheesy. For as combative as Wojnarowicz, he was never tacky.

Of course, it can be said that Wojnarowicz is not just about how it is put together. The images are there to tell a story about the artist, but are not actually part of the documentary’s narrative fiber. They are there to add to the message. And Wojnarowicz made a number of powerful statements. He stared down the government, AIDS, and U2’s Bono up until his death in 1992. His queer as in f--k you art style remains a influence today. In a time when no one wanted to talk about an epidemic that was killing so many, the New York artist was making sure everyone heard what he was saying.

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