Roles in Archive: Artist, Author
Location: 222 Bowery Time on the Bowery: 1966 - present;
John Giorno (b. 1936) was drawn to poetry at a young age, studying art and literature at Columbia College. In the early 1960s, he became acquainted with the Pop art movement, an encounter that would compel him to abandon his job as a stockbroker and dedicate his life to poetry. Inspired by the tactics of his friends Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, Giorno brought the act of appropriation to his work, presenting found texts as poetry. In 1963, Giorno gave his first public reading at a union building on 14th street, beginning an energized, vibrant practice that has inspired many historians to describe him as the father of performance poetry. In 1965, Giorno founded Giorno Poetry Systems, a not-for-profit organization. Utilizing such media as LPs, CDs, videos, and films, Giorno Poetry Systems has shared the works of more than 40 poets, including John Ashbery, William S. Burroughs, Denise Levertov, and Bobby Seale. In 1968, Giorno expanded this reach even further with Dial-a-poem, a service that allowed listeners to call a local telephone number and hear a randomly selected poem. During its three year existence, Dial-a-poem received over one million calls, offering over 700 selections by 55 different poets. Since 1970, Giorno has exhibited an evolving set of drawings and paintings based on his poetry. In 2008, he collaborated with Rirkrit Tiravanija on the latter artist’s work, JG Reads (2008), a 10 hour film in which Giorno performs works from the five-decade span of his career.