Listen To This

Tom Rubnitz

1992 | 00:15:30 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: AIDS/HIV, Activism, Chicago Art, Death and Dying, LGBTQ, Media Analysis

Listen To This is a fragment of collective memory that finds critical relevance in contemporary Queer discourse.  Tom Rubnitz weaves narration, image, and a form of temporality, dislocated from ‘real time’, into a video where artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz’s loss and anger is palpable.

This document, unfinished at the time of Rubnitz’s death, elicits various modes that trace their origins to oral history traditions: repetition, non-linear narrative construction, and disruption. In the video, Wojnarowicz sits alone facing the camera, infected with a plague (AIDS) that prevents him from abstracting his own mortality to some point in the distant future. He speaks to the present and in the present. Fragments of popular mass culture – Madonna, the Newscaster, a military helicopter – cut through Wojnarowicz’s impassioned performance, acting as visual prompts for the “diseased society” he has contracted.

Rubnitz constructs the work utilizing the aesthetic framework of the non-site of television, the dominant vessel for mass culture. He marks time and place through Wojnarowicz’s visceral attacks on Western power structures, and commonly held conceptions of the past and present. Listen To This is not an obituary, nor a memorial to its creator, but a furious attack on a homophobic HIV/AIDS policy, the consequences of which we still live with today.


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Exhibitions + Festivals

OutFest, Los Angeles, CA, 2014

NEMAF, Seoul International New Media, Seoul, 2015