‘What do telephones, poetry and the Museum of Modern Art have in common?” read a press release issued by the New York institution on 21 July 1970. A question to which they might have added gay liberation, Aids activism, the aesthetics of advertising, Tibetan Buddhism and sleeping for Andy Warhol, and still received the answer of John Giorni. The artist and poet, who died on Friday aged 82, was the linchpin of New York’s downtown scene. The list of his collaborators, friends and lovers, many of whom made their work at the Bunker, the studio complex Giorno established on the Bowery, which the New York Times described in 1965 as “a vision of Montparnasse replacing Skid Row”, is as numerous: John Cage, Anne Waldman, Mark Rothko, Lynda Benglis, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Trisha Brown and Carolee Schneeman were all contemporaries. In 1963 he appeared in Warhol’s film Sleep, which lasted five hours and 20 minutes and consisted of a static shot of Giorno asleep. At MoMA visitors were invited to pick up a telephone receiver from a bank of four, on which they could hear one of 50 poets, commissioned by Giorno, reciting their work. The project was an extension… Read full this story
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