Wednesday, February 3, 2010
John Giorno raises questions to an almost unbearable pitch, to a scream of surprised recognition. His litanies from the underworld of the mind reverberate in your head and ventriloquize your own thoughts.
– William S. Burroughs
An innovator of poetry and performance, John Giorno's career spans fifty years and is intertwined with contemporaries like Andy Warhol, William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. Whether written, performed, recorded, filmed or exhibited, Giorno's work – as a poet, and as a sexual, spiritual and political radical – is a shining jewel in the ongoing revolution of poetry and language in contemporary life. He helped pioneer the open exploration and celebration of queer sexuality in poetry in the 1960s; his anti-war work with Abbie Hoffman resulted in Spiro Agnew labelling him one of the "Hanoi Hannahs" in the 1970s; and his AIDS Treatment Project, begun in 1984, set the bar for direct, compassionate action in the AIDS crisis.
Giorno is fabled for his high energy live performances, honed in collaboration with William S. Burroughs in the 1970s and 1980s at rock, art and other venues around the world. His use of found materials, montage techniques and careful, direct exploration of the nature of mind through meditation has produced a vast body of work containing explosive experimental configurations of queer sex, spiritual practice and teaching, fused with fragments of everyday life.