Late Afternoon in the Forest
David Wojnarowicz’s Late Afternoon in the Forest is composed of painted and collaged imagery in a loose, dreamlike landscape featuring angels, gears, a centaur, a Native American figurine, an obscured airplane, and two blue head outlines. In the top left, an image of the Parthenon repeats, paired with a White House. Near the center, glowing green pillars line a subway tunnel, a gritty site in 1980s New York where Wojnarowicz lived and worked. Red ant-like creatures with human heads crawl out from the columns; both bodies and space are segmented in this neglected environment. On the left is a skull with its mouth sewn shut, a painful mutilation the artist would later execute on his own body in the AIDS documentary Silence = Death (1990). The symbolic implications of Wojnarowicz’s iconic portrait, namely the grievous consequences of self-censorship, are still felt.