3 Questions with AA Bronson
Artist, writer, and activist AA Bronson on vocation, engagement, and going solo.
3 QUESTIONS is series of brief, three-question interviews with PNCA’s visiting artists and lecturers. Each year, PNCA attracts innovative, thoughtful, and creative makers and thinkers who share our belief in the transformative power of creativity. In three short answers to three short questions, these artists offer perspectives on career, motivation, and transformation. When available, we include links to audio recordings, transcripts, slideshows, or video.
“Artists don’t have careers.
They have vocations.”
What advice would you offer current students about to embark on a career in the arts?
Artists don’t have careers, they have vocations. If you are looking for a career, best to consider some other path through life.
How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?
I don’t have a “creative practice.” I just do what I am driven to do. I am motivated because I am engaged; I am engaged because I don’t know any other way to be in the world.
Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?
I lived and worked for 25 years as one of three artists of General Idea. My two partners, Jorge and Felix, both died at home in 1994 of AIDS-related causes. In learning how to be a solo artist after years of collaboration, I started from what I knew: the fact of their deaths.
AA Bronson formed General Idea with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal in 1969. The trio lived and worked together for 25 years, undertaking more than 100 exhibitions and public art projects. They were known for their magazine, FILE (1972–1989), their production of low-cost multiples, and their early involvement in punk, queer theory, and AIDS activism. In 1974, General Idea founded Art Metropole, a distribution center and archive in Toronto for artists’ books, audio, video, and multiples. Bronson’s solo work focuses on death, grieving, and healing. He founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.