Introduction for Jack Waters

I first encountered Jack Waters’ writing inside his and Peter Cramer’s installation “Short Memory/ No History.” Once inside this room separated from the Visual AIDS, “Not Over” exhibition, I sat on a bed and looked around and started to experience osmosis of many different types of ephemera. I gravitated towards the pile of printed out essays next to photo documentation of past installations of this piece on a little camera screen and a laptop. Here were the installation’s internal organs, ongoing and a part of itself. Near the bed was a waxy apple that wouldn’t go bad and a small Tupperware of pens and white out and markers, which Jack, when he appeared inside the installation, invited me to use to mark comments on the essays.

I learned a tremendous amount from Jack Waters’ essays about not so distant moments in queer culture. Included is a take down of the neologism Post-Gay to the proliferation of alternative gay newspapers and zines from the 80s and 90s that, as Waters’ tells it, did not have “easy births.”

I snuck on Facebook a few days ago to read what Waters was posting. Waters writes, “I’m curious to know what 20 year olds today will think of political art made by 20 year olds 30 years ago.” This is in reference to the recent remounting of The Real Estate Show, which in 1980 took over a city-owned building on Delancy Street and led to the founding of ABC No Rio, one of the many “fertile climates” Waters, with Peter Cramer directed for many years.

Jack streams multiple cunning observations. His current work in process, “Pestilence” is an operatic cycle of three full length performance works mixing dance, oratory, chorus and media driven narrative. He fights the market driven trends in the arts, especially resisting the naming of art movements and the naming of genres as tools of “sterilization” in the work he does. As these trends become entrenched, we need Jack’s voice as a historian, as a columnist, as a narrator.