Artist, author and activist Avram Finkelstein photographed exclusively for A&U Magazine at Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, NY.

Avram Finkelstein

Brooklyn, NY

Avram Finkelstein received the Creative Capital Award in 2024. Finkelstein is an artist, writer, and a founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives. His work has shown at MoMA, the Whitney Museum, the New Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, David Zwirner, the Shed, the Museum of the City of New York, the Hirshhorn, Kunsthal KAdE, and the Migros Museum, and is in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Whitney, the New Museum, the Metropolitan, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. He is featured in the artist oral history project at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and his book for UC Press After Silence: A History of AIDS Through its Images was nominated for an International Center Of Photography 2018 Infinity Award in Critical Writing and Research. He has written for BOMB, frieze, Art21, and Foam, been interviewed by The New York Times, frieze, Artforum, NPR, Slate, and Interview, mentored younger queer artists in the Queer||Art|Mentorship program, and lectured about art, social practice, AIDS activism, LGBTQ cultural production, and the American Left at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and NYU.


Avram Finkelstein is a queer, disabled, political artist, and a founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives.

Artist Bio

As a politically engaged queer artist, Avram Finkelstein’s practice has centered on gendered hierarchies, gravitating toward public spaces in an attempt to reflect questions of access. Currently, he is reconsidering whether non-traditional art spaces render accessibility solely through “public-ness,” or gain social meaning through the ways they are instead “shared,” which he finds a more accurate metric for defining accessibility. Spurred by readjustments to his own increasing disability, the way every social space is simultaneously accessible and restricted is foregrounded for him as he becomes progressively interested in the activation of shared space as a means to measure any prior generosities the word “public” implies. As a consequence, Finkelstein is drawing on translucent vellums and lightweight voiles, presented as free-standing objects that “perform” representation as a process activated by the viewer’s presence, through the shadows and winds created while observing them, anthropomorphizing their multi-dimensionality. Notation is a method for memorization, inculcating experience or cognition through physical codes. As a life-long notetaker, Finkelstein has also drawn his whole life. His hand, however, no longer belongs to him, and it dictates its own language. As a result, his work has expanded beyond intellectual questioning of gendered representation and morphed into an expressionistic war, or dance, or chronicle of the tenuous reacquaintance with his own disobedient body, triggering a more pointedly personal exploration of corporeality as a system in flux. Finkelstein’s practice is wholly absorbed in gesture as a form of codification—of note-taking—to help re-situate how social spaces might function.

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