Peter Hujar. David Wojnarowicz. 1981. Gelatin silver print, 14 11/16 × 14 3/4" (37.3 × 37.4 cm). Gift of David Wojnarowicz. © 2022 Peter Hujar Archive

The artist and writer David Wojnarowicz, who died in 1992 at age of 37 from complications of AIDS, is best remembered for his political activism and his vibrant, confrontational paintings. Yet in her 2016 book The Lonely City, author Olivia Laing writes movingly about Wojnarowicz as a figure haunted by loneliness, a condition that inspired to him to fashion his work into a vehicle for visibility and connection. As part of our celebration of Pride month, I recently spoke with Laing—whose latest is Everybody: A Book About Freedom—about David Wojnarowicz’s life, legacy, and the desire for connection that animated his incandescent writing and art. “What Wojnarowicz wanted more than anything was for his work to connect with people that he might never encounter,” Laing told me. “For his work to go out like a message in a bottle, like a frequency that only certain people can hear.” Listen to our conversation below

Olivia Laing speaks about David Wojnarowicz and the power of connection