John Giorno’s Archives

A selection curated by Marcia Bassett

BOMB 140 Summer 2017
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Discover MFA Programs in Art and Writing

Giorno Archives 144 01

Poster for John Giorno: Performance Poetry, at Roter Salon Berlin, Oct 13, 2008.

Spanning more than six decades, John Giorno’s archive collection reveals a stunning breadth of artistic endeavor and an astonishing network of relationships. Giorno attributes his early awareness of the importance of archives to his associations with artists Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns, and writers William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. The archive collection holds Giorno’s entire body of published work, including rarely seen publications and thousands of photographs, fliers, interviews, and collected ephemera. As a whole the collection is a gold mine of resources, providing extensive insight into his work, life, and activities. It holds a complete record of his nonprofit collective, Giorno Poetry Systems; Dial-A-Poem logbook records and scrapbooks; documentation of his early light and Moog synthesizer–tape experiments, which John coined Electronic Sensory Poetry Environments; his first Consumer Product Poems, silkscreened on everyday objects; and original artwork for book jackets, posters, LPs, and AIDS Treatment Project fundraising events. Prominent names of Beat, pop artists, poets, performers and practitioners of experimentation, and innovators of new art forms appear throughout the archive.

As a musician, artist, and archivist, I had the honor of working with John’s collection from 2013–15, overseeing the arrangement of his archive for the exhibition Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Here I present just a few of the pieces that caught my eye in the process.

—Marcia Bassett

All materials courtesy of the John Giorno Collection, John Giorno Archives, Studio Rondinone, New York City.

Giorno Archives 145 01

It’s Worse Than I Thought / Life Is a Killer, photograph with Bernard Heidsieck and friends, Paris, February 8, 1992.

Giorno Archives 145 02

William S. Burroughs with a claw-hand glove in front of Giorno’s Life Is a Killer poem painting at the Bunker, New York City, September 1989.

Giorno Archives 146 01

Multiple typed letters to Brion Gysin reassembled into a cut-up, 1965.

Giorno Archives 146 02

Page from one of Giorno’s hand-assembled scrapbooks.

Giorno Archives 146 03

Self-portrait of Giorno, ca. 1966–69, photo-booth strip.

Giorno Archives 146 04

Poem prints on Giorno’s studio wall at 222 Bowery, NYC, October 31, 1998. Photo by Beth Wilber.

Giorno Archives 147 01

Flier for John Giorno Machine Readings Stop at Fischbach Gallery, October 27, 1966. Photo taken at the Chelsea Hotel by Gysin (reflected in the mirror, holding the camera).

Giorno Archives 147 02

Promotional photograph of Giorno Poetry Systems’ Matchbook Poems from Giorno’s series of Consumer Product Poems.

Giorno Archives 147 03

Joe Wimple, Giorno, Sally Chamberlain, and others on LSD in Central Park, spring 1968.

Giorno Archives 147 04

Mimeographed typed flier for Spring Gallery Concert 1967, presented by Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT), NYC.

Giorno Archives 147 05

Portrait of Giorno by Öyvind Fahlström, April 13, 1968.

Giorno Archives 147 06

Hamri, Targuisti, and Gysin on the road to Joujouka, Morocco, April 1966. Photo by Giorno.

Giorno Archives 147 07

Polaroid of Giorno, May 1969.

Giorno Archives 147 08

Stencil for “Window Curtain Poem: Will Suck Them Dry,” 1969, from Giorno’s series of Consumer Product Poems.

Giorno Archives 147 09

Flier for John Giorno & Peter Schjeldahl at the Folklore Center, NYC, September 24, 1967.

Giorno Archives 148 01

Poster for Giorno’s performance I Want to Turn You On at Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC, November 14, 1968.

Giorno Archives 148 02

Review in Fashion Collegiate, December 2, 1968.

Giorno Archives 148 03

Electronic Sensory Poetry Environments, performance of Chromosome at the School of Visual Arts, NYC, November 17–19, 1967.

Giorno Archives 148 04

Flier for Tiny Events by Poets at Longview Country Club (annex to Max’s Kansas City), NYC, November 17, 1968.

Giorno Archives 148 05

Johnny Guitar performance at Skowhegan Summer Art School, ME, 1967.

Giorno Archives 148 06

Johnny Guitar performance event at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, NYC, April 2, 1969.

Giorno Archives 149 01

Giorno in lotus position, 222 Bowery, NYC, ca. 1969–70.

Giorno Archives 149 02

Letter to William S. Burroughs on Giorno Poetry Systems letterhead, February 7, 1971.

Giorno Archives 149 03

Page from Dial-A-Poem logbook record, 1969.

Giorno Archives 149 04

Photo shoot for The Dial-A-Poem Poets LP, NYC, 1972.

Giorno Archives 149 05

Poster for the two-LP set of The Dial-A-Poem Poets released on Giorno Poetry Systems, 1972.

Giorno Archives 149 06

Title page from Gay Sunshine, issue 24. Photo by Peter Hujar.

Giorno Archives 150 01

Flier designed by Les Levine for CUM, performed by Michael Brody and Giorno at 98 Greene Street, NYC, 1970.

Giorno Archives 150 02

Flier for the Poet’s Giant Christmas Celebration at the St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, December 25, 1968.

Giorno Archives 150 03

“Happy Birthday” drawing for Giorno by Joe Brainard, 1969.

Giorno Archives 150 04

Vitamin G, Giorno’s short-run gossip column, published in Les Levine’s Culture Hero, September 15, 1969.

Giorno Archives 150 05

Giorno, Charlie Plymell, Burroughs, James Grauerholz, and others at Allen Ginsberg’s farm in Cherry Valley, NY, 1970s.

Giorno Archives 151 01

Flier designed by Les Levine for William S. Burroughs / John Giorno Poetry Reading, Meetinghouse, 70 Charles Street, Boston, MA, October 24, 1974.

Giorno Archives 151 02

Jane Cortez, Giorno, Burroughs, Diamanda Galás, and Jim Carroll in a restaurant, Bremen, Germany, May 7, 1986. Photo by Jochen Mönch.

Giorno Archives 151 03

Flier for Burroughs, Giorno, and Laurie Anderson, West Coast Tour, 1981.

Giorno Archives 151 04

Flier for the Nova Convention Revisited, Lied Center, Lawrence, KS, November 26, 1996.

Giorno Archives 152 01

Giorno Poetry Systems trifold mailer, 1979. Designed by Les Levine and George Delmerico.

Giorno Archives 152 02

Flier for We Shall Live Again: Benefit for AIDS Treatment Project, text by David Wojnarowicz, September 1987. The AIDS Treatment Project provided funding for artists living with AIDS through the early 2000s.

Giorno Archives 152 03

AIDS Treatment Project artwork originals: Keith Haring, Burroughs, and Giorno, 1991.

Giorno Archives 152 04

Giorno shooting at targets with Burroughs in Lawrence, KS, May 1, 1993.

Giorno Archives 152 05

Artspace Presents John Giorno and Bernard Heidsieck, Queensland, Australia, March 3, 1995. Flier from Around the World Tour, 1995.

John Giorno by Verne Dawson
Giorno Interview 01
John Giorno, Poet by Rebecca Waldron & Chris Kraus
John Giorno Feature 01

John Giorno’s influence as a cultural impresario, philanthropist, activist, hero, and éminence grise stretches so widely and across so many generations that one can almost forget that he is primarily a poet.

Taylor Mac by Katherine Cooper
Taylor Mac 02

On being an outsider, the nature of authenticity, and the depths of pop-culture.

Chris McKim’s Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker by Eugenie Dalland
Three buffaloes tumble off the side of a cliff.

Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker (World of Wonder) a documentary by Chris McKim, pays tribute David Wojnarowicz, capturing the care and ferocity of the AIDS activist and artist.

Originally published in

BOMB 140, Summer 2017

Featuring interviews with John Giorno, Lidia Yuknavitch, Iman Issa, Eric Baudelaire, Ieva Misevičiūtė, Daniel Borzutzky, and more.

Read the issue
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