Cruising the Dead RiverDavid Wojnarowicz and New York's Ruined Waterfront

Cruising the Dead RiverDavid Wojnarowicz and New York's Ruined Waterfront

Fiona Anderson

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226603612

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Cruising the Dead River traces the queer history of the cruising ground of Manhattan’s West Side piers in the 1970s and early 1980s, arguing that the ruined buildings that dominated this queer landscape assumed a powerful erotic role in the cruising that took place there in the late 1970s and the art that was produced in and about this site, sparking a sense of erotic connection between past and present, land and sea. Drawing upon the art and writing of David Wojnarowicz, and incorporating discussions of art, activism, poetry, performance, and film, this book posits that the pleasure of the ruin cannot be seperated from the complex, sometimes violent, forces of urban regeneration and social cleansing that were reshaping the waterfront in the pre-AIDS era, which have been obscured as the neighbourhoods were gentrified in the AIDS crisis years that followed.